Submitted by: Faye

Well, it’s February! How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Hopefully, you haven’t broken all of them yet. So far this year, we have talked about saving money, giving, weddings and health. Don’t you feel better already??

So if one of your resolutions was to get into better financial health (or even if it wasn’t), maybe we should think about how we handle our money. I haven’t met many people that say they are working for the fun of it, so I am guessing most of us are working to support our families, pay our bills and have a few extra things that we don’t need but want. The BIG QUESTION is…do you have a budget or are you just winging it? The biggest majority of people are winging it, hoping some cash will be left at the end of the month. In reality, this plan (and believe me, I have been there) just never works out. So how do I make a budget? Let’s look at the steps. They are pretty simple when you break it down and not too time consuming.

First of all, write down your expenses. Expenses are what you spend your money on, including bills that are the same each month (like rent), bills that change each month (like utilities) and bills you pay once or twice a year (like car insurance). Other expenses would include things like food, gas, entertainment, clothes, unplanned expenses (car repairs or medical bills) and credit card bills (and yes, even working for a bank, I have credit cards). Some bills change every month like your electric bills. Look at what you paid each month last year and estimate about the same or a little more for this year’s same expense. Don’t forget about your tithe, giving to others and savings.

Next, write down how much money you make, including your paychecks and any other money you get, like child support.

Now subtract your expenses from how much money you make. This number should be more than zero. If it is less than zero, then you are spending more money than you make. This gives you the chance to look back at your budget to see what you do not need of what you can spend less on so you can adjust your spending.

At the beginning of each month, make your plan. Write down what you think you will earn and spend. Keep a record of what you spend. If you will do this every day, at the end of the month you will see how well your plan has gone for the month. By using that information, it will help you plan the next month’s budget.

Sounds simple, huh? It will actually get easier each month. By putting all of this on paper, you will see where you are wasting money, where you can save and where you need to concentrate on paying off your debt.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.” So since we all “gotta have it” be good stewards of your money. Make a budget, adjust it, and re-adjust it until it works for you. That’s a powerful plan.