The first step to avoiding the troubles of financial debt is to create and maintain a budget. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, don’t worry.
First off, create a list of all your monthly income and also a list of your monthly expenses. When determining income, list all sources including alimony, child support, side jobs, etc. In calculating expenses, be sure to include housing, food, transportation, utilities, entertainment, etc. To gain an accurate reflection of actual expenses, sit down each night and write down expenses, just make sure to save receipts. Determine if your income covers all of your expenses. If the answer is no, then some expenses need to be reduced.
Adjust expenses. If it is a small discrepancy, it may mean reducing some minor expenses like entertainment or cell phone plan. If the deficit is larger, you may need to downsize your vehicle or living arrangements. If your income covers all of your expenses, you still may want to trim some of the excess fat off your spending habits. This can free up extra money for things such as vacations or college funds for your children.
Additionally, consider if you need to add new categories. Some areas that are often overlooked are debt reduction, emergency savings funds, and retirement savings. An emergency fund ensures there is an adequate amount available to cover unforeseen events (car emergency, etc), should it arise. This will eliminate the need for using credit which can quickly damage your budget.
There are several advantages to sticking to your budget. Firstly, most people have set financial goals that they would like to reach in the future. Sometimes it may be a trip, a brand new car, or a college education. A budget can help people save money to make these goals a reality. Additionally, many people are crushed under heavy consumer debt. Without a disciplined pattern of spending, it is virtually impossible to make much headway in reducing debt. A personal budget will provide the necessary framework to begin eliminating these inflated account balances.
If executed properly, a budget will allow a person to simultaneously meet their expenses, place money into savings, and pay back outstanding debts. Therefore, it is anyone’s best interest to create and implement a budget.