If you think that you may have a debt problem, take a few seconds to answer the questions below:
- Are you using more and more of your income to pay your debt?
- Do you make only the minimum payments due on your loans and credit cards each month?
- Are you near, at, or over the credit limit on your credit cards?
- Are you paying your bills with money intended for other things?
- Are you borrowing money or using credit cards to pay for things you used to buy with cash?
- Do you often pay your bills late?
- Are you dipping into your savings to pay current bills?
- Do you put off visits to the dentist or doctor because you can’t afford them?
- Has a collection agency called recently about overdue bills?
- Are you working overtime or a second job to make ends meet?
- If you or your spouse lost your jobs, would you be in financial trouble right away?
- Do you often worry about money?
If you answered “YES” to more than three of the questions, you may already be in serious debt trouble.
But don’t despair; there are options available to get your finances back on track.
There are also steps you can take starting now that will help you get your finances under control.
Below you’ll find our recommended steps to making a monthly budget, the goal here is to get a full understanding of where your money is going and to identify where you can save money in order to repay your financial obligations.
Steps to Making a Monthly Budget
For many, monthly budgeting appears to be a complicated task – too overwhelming even to attempt. Below you’ll find a step-by-step description of how to make a budget you can live with:
- Be honest. Don’t try to make your budget “look good.” The budget is for you, so be honest with yourself.
- Set 3-5 financial goals and priorities you hope to achieve, e.g. make a 10% down payment on a home in 5 years.
- List your expected income for the coming month.
- Estimate your expenses for the coming month, including fixed and variable expenses, and keeping in mind infrequent items such as oil changes and car licensing fees. Try to categorize them into 5-10 groups.
- Keep track of your actual spending, even if it’s just 89¢ for a pack of gum. Enter what you spend under each categorized group from step 4.
- Identify your “Budget Busters” – habits and expenses for small items that have a big impact on your spending. Examples include daily coffee, cable TV, eating out, and other personal habits.
- Set goals on how to bring these budget busters under control.
- Compare your actual spending with your projected (budgeted) spending. Consider adjusting either your budget or – more difficult but more effective – your spending habits and/or your lifestyle.
Of course, some situations may arise that require quicker action. For immediate assistance call (877) 688-3328 and speak to a certified credit counselor right away.