Friday, October 3, 2008

Do you have a budget?

Do you know where your money goes? Can you account for every penny or do you get to the end of the month and wonder what the hell happened to your money? Worse yet, do play beat the bank and float checks hoping that the paycheck comes in before the check you wrote clears the bank?

I am guilty of all of those things at one time or another. Now I have a written record of finances and where the money is suppose to go each month. If you’re as lost as I use to be then here are a few steps to help you out.

Write out all of your fixed expenses. Mortgage, rent, utilities, groceries, gas, etc. Now list your credit cards or loans on there too. If you’re not sure of your grocery or gas expenses then over the next month write down every time you go to the grocery store or stop at the gas station. (If you want a true average then keep track for three months and then find the average)

Now write down your income for the month and subtract your expenses. If your expenses outweigh your income then you need to find ways to cut corners. The best place to start is the grocery bill. Try buying generic brands or planning out your meals.

If you really have to cut out some things try reducing your satellite or cable package. Do this with your phone bill as well. If you can make do with one car then perhaps you could sell one or trade in one for a more economical model.

If your income exceeds your expenses that is wonderful news! Try to put money into an interest building savings account. Pick a percentage to put back every pay period or month. Even $5-$10 a month makes a difference.

Final note, when creating a budget be sure to include amounts for savings, entertainment such as eating out and trips to the movies, medical and dental expenses, fees for sports or school, any other miscellaneous you might think of.