How to get control over your finances

HAVE you ever found yourself wondering where all the money has gone and it is not the end of the month? There are things we can do to help ourselves eliminate being in this situation.

Here are the steps you may follow:

Determine monthlytake-home income

Whether you are a single individual or a family, you need to determine how much money is being made each month.

Once this is determined the family or individual knows how much money there is to work with. If we find ourselves spending more than we make, then some decisions need to be made.

There are basically three options: get another job to subsidise your income, get more education or training to get a better paying job, or decrease your spending.

Understand billsand expenses

Account for your bills and the money you spend during your daily activities. This can be done by saving copies of your paid bills and recording your daily expenses in a small notebook. Once or twice a month take inventory of your expenses.

Tracking your expenses

We have created a budget using the computer to track our finances. A good spreadsheet or financial software will help track your expenditures.

After you have determined what your monthly take-home income is, you need to divide it up between your categories. The total amount placed in all the categories needs to equal your take-home income.

Savings accountand retirement

A big part of any budget should be setting aside money into a savings account. Money in a savings account provides a little cushion in case of an emergency, loss of employment, or disaster.

Just a side note about saving for retirement. If your employer has a 401K program, it would be beneficial to look into the program.

Many employers have a matching program where they will match a certain percentage of what you contribute to your retirement.

If your employment does not have a retirement savings plan, then you may want to look at budgeting money for your own long-term savings plan.

This plan could be investing in the stock market or an individual retirement annuity.

Spend less than you make

This has been an age-old problem. People in general have a tendency to spend more than they make.

A simple rule of thumb is to spend less than you make and save as much as you can.

Setting up your budget takes time and effort, but can be very rewarding. Getting in control of your financial future can be done with the help of a budget and some personal discipline on your part.-