Seven Steps to a Successful Budget


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Most people don’t find setting a budget and sticking to it fun or easy to do. But, with a little determination and commitment, it can pay off. Here are seven tips to help you create a successful budget.

Discuss Your Values

It’s best to talk with your loved ones and determine what’s most important to them (and you). By including others in your spending plan, you can focus your decisions – and take action – on what brings everyone the most joy and satisfaction.

 Set Goals

Ask your family members what they’d like to do with their money and encourage them to set goals. For example, maybe you’d like to start saving money for your child’s education. Always remember to put your goals down on paper and set specific deadlines for each one. Start working on the one that’s most important to you first.  When setting your budget, put money aside for your goals. Remember – to achieve your special goal – you have to treat the money as a bill to paid by YOU.

 Determine Your Income

First, you have to figure out where you’re starting from. List your net pay (the money that’s left over after deductions) and any money that makes up your income (ex. allowances, social security, child support, etc.). Do not include any overtime pay.

Determine Your Expenses

What are the expenses in your budget? Make a comprehensive list. Consider fixed, variable and periodic expenses. Fixed expenses stay the same each month, variable expenses vary from month to month, and periodic expenses are not due every month (ex. your quarterly sewer bill).

Create a Plan

Design a spending plan so that your income will allow you and your family to have what you want and need. If you find that your income doesn’t cover your expenses, you’ll need to re-evaluate your plan and decide where to trim or make changes.

Keep Track of Expenses

It’s important to keep note of where your money is being spent. By comparing your estimated expenses with what you’re really spending, you can determine if your plan is working or not.

Evaluate Your Plan

Periodically evaluate your spending plan. Is it working? Are you meeting the goals you set? Do your goals need adjusted? Has your focused changed? Now’s the time to take inventory.

Remember…budgeting is the cornerstone of your family’s financial plan and a guide to help you meet your goals.

As a member of Members 1st Federal Credit Union, you can take advantage of the GreenPath program – a free financial education and counseling program. GreenPath counselors are available Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. (EST), Friday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. To use this service, call (877) 337-3399 or visit www.greenpathref.com.

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