Have you lost control over personal finance? Do you find yourself reaching for credit cards to pay for daily living expenses? Are debt collectors hounding you day and night? If you have more month than money, it is time to engage in financial soul searching.
Regaining control over personal finance is rewarding and empowering. Regardless of the severity of your financial situation realize there is always a solution. In order to be successful, you must be willing to thoroughly review where you are spending money and where expenses can be reduced.
Many people become overwhelmed by the thought of creating a household budget. Budgeting is actually quite easy to do and only requires an hour or two of your time. The first step involves creating a list of recurring expenses such as mortgage payments or rent, car payments, utilities, insurance premiums, cell phone, gasoline or transportation costs, groceries and daycare.
The second step of budgeting involves tallying up your total household income and subtracting expenses. If expenses are higher than income, it is time to make budget cuts or find ways to increase monthly income.
The beautiful thing about budgeting is it doesn’t cost a dime. All you need is a piece of paper and pencil, along with a commitment to become hyper-aware of spending activities and determination to stick to the financial plan.
Some people prefer to use budgeting software or create spreadsheets to help them track expenses. Others utilize budgeting tools offered through their bank or credit card provider. It does not matter which method is used. However, it is best to choose a method which you can easily use on a daily basis.
Many people do not realize they can slash expenses by making phone calls to service providers. Most utility providers offer monthly budget plans which allow consumers to pay the same amount each month. Enrolling in utility budget plans can be especially beneficial during summer and winter months when utility costs can soar. Gas, electric and water utilities often offer budget plan enrollment via their website; making it easy for consumers to enroll during non-business hours.
Consumers can sometimes negotiate the cost of cable and internet services by contacting their service provider. Consumers should spend time conducting research to determine competitor prices. Be certain to compare rates for individual services and bundled packages and make note of each.
Contact your service provider by phone and explain that their competitor offers a reduced rate over the package you are currently subscribed to. Most cable and internet providers offer discounts to new subscribers and those who bundle two or more services, such as phone, internet service and digital TV.
Cable providers will often reduce monthly service fees to retain your business. If they aren’t willing to provide a discount, consider switching to reduced price plan or obtain service through a different provider.
One of the biggest expenses many families have is groceries. If you have never used manufacturer coupons, now is the time to start. The Internet provides easy access to grocery coupons which can be printed in the comfort of your home. Several websites are dedicated to providing coupons and most food purveyors offer coupons and rebates via company websites.
The only way to get out of debt is to track every penny being spent. Take time to record expenses on a piece of paper so you can quickly determine which items are draining your bank account. Most people are unaware of how much money they waste on unnecessary items.
If debts have spiraled out of control and you rely on credit cards to get you through the month, consider obtaining credit counseling. Many credit counseling agencies provide low- or no-cost services to help consumers regain control of personal finance. Credit counseling can take place in person, over the phone or online.