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The Importance of a Budget

The ability to manage your money is critical regardless of what the economy is doing – but in hard times it is even more important.  Setting up a budget provides insight to where your money is being allocated and how to most effectively manage it.

There are several tools that can help you manage your expenses.  Using the monthly budget worksheet attached is a great start; however, most financial experts will tell you to look at historical information as this is the best gauge of future expenses. What were your expenses last year?  How do they compare against expenses this year?   Other tools include keeping a daily log of your expenses by category so that way you can determine where the majority of your expenditure is going and where you can cut back, or setting up envelopes for each monthly expense.

Have a look at the sample Budget Worksheet provided by Checkmate.

Regardless of what tool you use, the best thing to do is to keep it simple and easy for you to follow.  The more complicated the budgeting process is, the less likely a person is to keep up with it.  Allow for unexpected expenses such as auto or medical expenses or for irregular income.  To avoid running out of money because expenses occur before the money actually arrives, try to build a "safety cushion" of excess cash. There is no easy way to develop a safety cushion, so families frequently have to spend less than they earn until they have accumulated a cushion. Most families build this cushion by spending less than they earn and saving the excess funds, which requires discipline but is well worth it. Of course, Checkmate will always be here to help out, just as we have for over 20 years, should you need our assistance.