Taking a New Road
Sometimes it may feel like you're the only one struggling to make ends meet, even though you're burning the candle at both ends and still have nothing left at the end of the month. No matter your age, we all seem to go down this road at one time or another. Setting up a monthly finance plan might get you turned in the right direction. Have you ever written down how much you spend every day? Between morning coffee and evening beers or wine (or too many restaurant meals), that alone might help you save $100 for the end of the month. Begin by writing down what you spend versus what you take home in your pay check.
Once we have a firm handle on where the money is seeping out at, we have a visual picture of what we have left to pay bills. Do you play, then pay? Or do you pay and then play, only if you have money left? All too often we play before we pay our bills. Before you go cold turkey and stop the morning coffee buys, start with one week and mentally make a note as to whether you need to spend those few dollars, or if you could save them this week to pay that cell phone bill.
Many are shocked when they take on the task of actually writing down on paper, or perhaps and Excel sheet, of the monthly income versus the bills that are due that month. You can do this! Make yourself take the time to write it down. Take last week for instance, write down what you spent on frivolous items that you didn't need, yes, you wanted them, but didn't NEED them.
There's a difference between wants and needs. We want to eat out, but we need to buy groceries. We want to stay warm, but we don't need to set the thermostat at 75. Are there other ways you can cut those monthly expenses so you can have money to pay the bills? This isn't going to correct things over night.
Something else to consider is the taxes you have taken from your paycheck. Those calculations also help determine what you'll have to pay Uncle Sam at tax time. If you're having to pay each year, you need to adjust your withholding exemptions. Those who have children approaching 17 are going to lose the Child Tax Credit exemption on your tax return so plan now if you fall into that category. Don't set yourself up for having to pay because you didn't plan ahead. Are you claiming too many on your W4? Take a look at that because you can ask your employer to change your exemptions at any time during the year. Just complete and sign a new W4.
I hope I've helped you a little in getting those expenses under control. Yes, I'm in the tax biz and enjoy helping others be prepared for the unexpected. Retirement planning is another post for the future so I hope you check back often for more financial help. Thanks for stopping in. Did this help you stop to think about what you're spending?
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