Many of us simply swipe our cards day-to-day and have automatic payments set up for subscription services. This lackluster attitude toward our finances might be easy, but it also makes checking our bank and credit statements an anxiety-ridden task.
Creating a better budget is a simple solution to getting ahead on your finances and managing your debt. Here’s how to get started with 6 simple steps.
1. Calculate Net Income
Before you can start calculating your net income, you’ll have to gather the necessary financial paperwork. This includes bank statements, investment accounts, utility bills, W-2/paystubs, 1099s, credit card bills, receipts, mortgage/auto loan statements, etc.
Next, take your total wages or salary and subtract tax deductions and employee benefits, like tax-advantaged retirement accounts and health insurance to determine your take-home pay, or net income.
2. List Your Monthly Expenses
Now make a spreadsheet or a simple list of all your monthly expenses. Tracking your payments will help you discover any “leaks”. Maybe you’re spending more than you thought on eating out or paying for subscriptions that you no longer use.
Your expense list should include the following:
- Car payments
- Entertainment/Eating out
- Child care
- Debt repayment
- Personal care
- Out-of-pocket medical
Once you have your expenses written out in front of you, it will be easier to visualize your financial activity and make adjustments.
3. Determine Fixed and Variable Expenses
Your expenses fall into two general categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are mandatory expenses that generally remain consistent month-to-month (i.e. car insurance, mortgage, rent) while variable expenses fluctuate (i.e. groceries, gas, entertainment, gifts).
Determine which expenses are variable and which are fixed, then add a spending value to each expense. For variable expenses, review your spending habits over the last several months and estimate your month-to-month.
4. Total Your Monthly Income and Expenses
Ideally, your net income will be higher than your expenses. If it is, that’s great. You can use that extra income towards creating an emergency fund, adding to your retirement account, or paying off debt.
However, if your expenses outpace your net income, you should review your expenses and see where you can make cuts.
5. Adjust Your Spending
When you have to adjust your spending to avoid going deeper into debt, your variable expenses are the first to cut. Can you eat out less and meal prep more? Do you really use that gym membership? Can you carpool to work?
You can also try contacting your phone service or car insurance provider and renegotiate your monthly bill. While it might not be as easy as cutting ice cream out of your grocery list, it is certainly worth a shot.
However you adjust your spending, your end goal is to have your expenses lower than your net income.
6. Make Debt Repayment a Priority
Debt repayment should be a top priority for your budget. Not only do you have to pay it back, but if you don’t, the interest payments will eat into your net income and throw off the rest of your budget.
If you are having trouble making debt repayments, you may want to consider contacting a debt relief company that can help you navigate the process.
Trust and experience are what make a good debt settlement company. Americor has relieved $2 billion dollars in debt over 30 states. They are fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC), and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA). With over 400 employees Americor can tailor the optimal solution to your situation and help you navigate these uncertain financial times.
Determine if you qualify for debt settlement, get a free debt analysis to determine if debt consolidation is viable, and receive credit counseling by talking to a certified debt consultant today.
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