As we start a new year, it’s time to begin thinking about getting our finances in order. There is always room for improvement. Depending on your situation, this may take a few simple changes or it could be a total revamp of your lifestyle. Take time in the beginning of the year to start a thorough financial review. This should include all income, expenses, debts and savings. If it has been a while since the last review, restarting the process may seem daunting but the longer it is put off the harder it becomes to get started. The more often a budget review takes place, the easier it becomes. Now is the best time to turn things around and get back on track toward financial goals. The best news is that help is available if and when it is needed. We are always happy to assist you.
Tracking your expenses for 30 days prior to putting your budget together is a good idea. There are several ways you can go about this process. There are programs on the Internet, apps for your smartphone or you can simply use a spiral bound pocket notebook and write down every penny you spend and what you spent it on. This will provide valuable information when you start loading expenses into your budget and also give you insight into your spending patterns. Be sure that you include savings in your budget. Think about needs and wants during this process as you may have to cut back on some expense items if your income does not cover everything. Remember that your whole household needs to be a part of this process in order for it to be successful. You don’t want to burden your children with money problems, but it can be a valuable learning experience for them. If you come out with a break even budget this is good. If you have a surplus of income, that’s even better. Use this extra for savings or to pay down high interest debt. Always be sure to include some money in the budget for something you enjoy doing. When you are doing that fun thing, remind yourself that this is your reward for sticking to the budget. If you come up with a shortage, you will need re-look at expenses and reduce or eliminate some things, where possible. For this reason it’s always best to do your budget in pencil -preferably one with an eraser!
Goal setting is very important. If you are going to be successful you must write your goals down. Do your homework. Research what it will take to accomplish your goal. Make sure that your goal is attainable. Remember that most things are possible if you allow yourself enough time and you have the drive to complete the task. However be realistic, you do not want to set yourself up for failure. Make sure that you assign completion dates. If you do not achieve the goal in the time frame set, figure out why not and modify the time frame as required and press forward. Financial goals are important, so give them the time and attention they deserve.
Putting a plan in motion this year can make all of the following years even better. For help making those goals a reality, speak to an NFCC certified counselor with Graceworks Consumer Credit Counseling Service. To get started today, call 937-643-2227 or 800-377-2432 to set up an appointment.