How to Create a Budget

Planning | Financial Literacy News

Do you ask yourself where all the money goes at the end of every month? Do you tend to lose track of which bills you've paid and which are due? Do you tend to just pay whichever arrives first? If so, you need a budget. This helpful tool tracks all of your financial information at a glance. Not only will it organize your finances and pinpoint ways to save money, but it will set you on the road to financial security.

Six Ways to Save Money

Creating and maintaining an accurate budget is based on following six easy steps:

Identify income.

This includes all income for the coming year. In addition to salary, think of all other expected sources of household income including tax refunds and raises.

List expenses.

Be honest with yourself about all household expenses, including eating out, salon services and hobbies. Consider all of your regular monthly bills like phone and utilities, and your debt to creditors through bank cards and other lenders. If you have trouble remembering or estimating totals, a credit counseling consultant is a helpful, unbiased source of expertise.

Pay yourself first.

Make sure that your budget allows for money to be put aside in a savings account each month. Credit counseling advisors say that the amount is not as important as establishing the savings habit-small amounts quickly add up.

Make adjustments.

Making expenses fit into the available income is an art, not a science. If you find yourself struggling to adjust expenses, you might find it less stressful to hand the job over to a professional credit counseling agency. After a series of confidential one-on-one interviews, a credit counselor can structure a personalized, in-depth budget that focuses on your long-term financial goals.

Dump the debt.

If a large part of your monthly expenses goes to paying down debt, the most helpful step you can take to building a strong financial future is getting rid of that debt. A debt management plan is one option that a credit counseling agency can provide. A credit counselor can help consolidate your debt into one convenient payment, negotiate more reasonable monthly payments with creditors, and create a plan for paying it off as quickly as possible.

Track your results.

Check your budget monthly to monitor how much closer you are to reaching your financial goals. Your budget will quickly become your "good news" financial statement for the month!

Keys to Debt Management

A budget is a particularly useful tool for managing debt, explain credit counselors, because it helps you stay focused on paying off bills. It is powerful to see those balances drop month after month, knowing that you are achieving your goals by sticking to a realistic budget.