HELP! I've got more MONTH left at the end of my MONEY!
If this statement is true for you, then you may not see the intended humor in it. It's a very serious subject for a great many individuals in our part of the state. You may be feeling incredible stress while frantically trying month after month, payday after payday, to make ends meet and somehow get ahead financially.
If this describes you, Don't Give Up Hope! The easiest way to relieve the stress of money worries is to create a written plan. Often just the act of writing down your bills and when to pay them is enough to significantly reduce the stress caused by financial troubles.
There are Four Things You Need to Get Started Reclaiming Your Long Lost Cash Flow
1. A Pen or Pencil
2. Some Paper
3. A Calendar
4. A Calculator
Start by setting aside some time when you are feeling alert and awake to sit down and start making a plan. First write down what take-home pay you have. Then make a list of all the bills you have to pay regularly out of that income. (Rent, mortgage, car payment, electric bill, phone bill, etc.)
Here's the tricky part. The next step is to figure out how much you spend on day-to-day expenses. Things like groceries, gas for the car, haircuts, shopping, etc. These things can fluctuate greatly and may quite literally change with the seasons. For this to be truly accurate you may need to write down every penny you spend for one or two paychecks. Then you'll have a good idea of where your money is going. This activity in itself may be enough to help you stop any leaks in your cash flow. At the very least it will give you an idea of how much you need to allot for these expenses.
Once you know what your income is, what your regular bills cost, and what your day-to-day expenses are, then you are ready to finish your plan and put it into action! Using a calendar, write down the days you get paid and how much. Then choose dates to pay your regular bills and write them on the calendar too. You might even go as far as to write down what days you plan to put gas in the car and how much to put in. Set a maximum amount for groceries and eating out and try to stay under that amount for each pay period. For shopping and incidental expenses give yourself an allowance and stay under it.
Use technology to help you save money or set it aside for paying down debts. If your employer offers direct deposit, you may be able to use that along with Online Billpay to automate your loan payments, bills, and savings.
Flexibility is important! As expenses arise you will need to make adjustments from time to time. If it takes a few months for you to get comfortable with your budget, that's ok. You don't have to get it right the first time.
Download the attached Budget Worksheet below. Make your plan. Make it yours. Stick to it, and you'll be well on your way towards relieving your financial stress!