Personal Budget Planner - Put It To Work For You

Having a personal budget planner is an integral part of your overall financial health. It's vital that you know exactly where you stand financially:

Having a personal budget planner is an integral part of your overall financial health.  It's vital that you know exactly where you stand financially: how much debt you have, what assets you have, etc.  These factors will give you a better idea of how to plan for retirement, college, a new home or car, etc.  You don't need to hire an expensive financial planner or run out and buy the latest planning software, all you really need is a little time and some paper and a pencil. 

The first thing you will need to do is gather all your financial information. Include your pay stubs to get an accurate idea of exactly how much you bring in monthly, include any fixed debts such as a mortgage or car loans, include all your normal monthly expenses such as utility bills, groceries, gas, dry cleaning, etc.  

In order to make sure you're not forgetting any bills check back over your checkbook register and credit card statements for the last couple of months.  That will give you a great snapshot of what you spend your money on every month.  Also, make sure to include bills that don't occur monthly such as car registration, property taxes, insurance premiums, etc.  

Once you've gathered all your ongoing monthly expenses and you know what your monthly income is all you have to do is to subtract all your expenses from all your monthly income. That will give you a very clear picture of where you are right now. 

Ideally, you want to see that your expenses are less than your income, but for many that aren't the case.  If you find that you're 'upside down and you are actually spending more each month (either by using a credit or by not paying all your bills every month) than you earn, you will need to make some serious changes.  The sooner you get this under control the better. 

For most people, it's simply not an option to just earn more money so that means you'll have to find ways to spend less.  This may seem impossible at first but for many, it's simply a matter of shifting priorities.  For example, do you really need to spend $4 on a cup of coffee every day?  Maybe you could make coffee at home and carry it with you or maybe you could just get a cheaper cup of coffee.  

If you find that you're eating out a lot you could start packing your lunch.  These are just some examples, obviously, you'll have to look at the specifics of your budget. 

By freeing up just a few hundred dollars a month you can use that money to start paying down a credit card.  Once you've gotten your smallest card paid off you can take the money you used to put on that card every month and apply it to the next biggest account you have.  If you keep doing this you'll find you are debt-free much sooner than you thought. 

Having a personal budget planner doesn't have to be elaborate or confusing, just take a little time to get an idea of exactly what money you have and where it is being spent.  Just looking at it in black and white will probably be a real eye opener for you. 

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