A well-designed, realistic spending plan is the most important step to take in your journey to reach your financial goals.
If you’re not completely comfortable with your spending plan, or would like some guidance with this or other financial issues, consider a free and confidential money management counseling session with a BALANCE counselor. Our appointments are available weekdays, evenings, and weekends. The average counseling session lasts approximately one hour, and there is no limit on the number of sessions you may have.
Counselors are qualified to discuss general money management, credit and housing topics including goal setting, spending and savings plans, credit and credit reports, debt management, buying a first home, mortgage delinquency and foreclosure prevention. Each session is goal oriented and results in a written action plan clearly outlining the steps you and your counselor decide to take in order to establish personal financial control.
Developing Your Own Spending Plan
Download our Money Management Planner, a budgeting tool (PDF) to see if you’re right on track or if you’ll need to increase your income or decrease your expenses in order to save enough money to get where you want to go.
The math that lies at the root of a strong spending plan is simple: The amount of money going out must always be less than, or equal to, the amount of money coming in. Most of us have a fairly good sense of how much we bring home each month through our paychecks and perhaps earnings on savings and investments. Money going out, however, may be a bit fuzzier. The checks we write and the purchases made on credit cards are easy enough to track, but cash may seem simply to disappear. As a result, there are gaps in the spending plan.
Understanding and flexibility in your spending habits is the key to successful budgeting. Once you’ve tracked your spending, then you are in a position to make an educated decision whether to continue spending as you have, or to make changes in order to more readily reach your financial goals.
Wonder where all of your money goes?
For one week, record all of your expenses no matter how small. At the end of the week, you’ll have a clear idea of where those extra dollars could be hiding. In the future, you can use the funds you currently fritter away to increase savings, pay off bills, or buy something special.
Pay Yourself First!
Save and invest 5-10% of your gross annual income. Of course, for most of us, this is easier said than done. If you’re currently living from paycheck to paycheck without seeing an opportunity to get ahead, begin by creating a solid spending plan after tracking all of your monthly expenses. Or, call a BALANCE counselor to help you get your savings plan in order.