Our budgeting tools, the Personal Budget Tracker and its tracking graphs, are simple and free to use. These tools can provide you quick budget help. It's so important to have the right tools, but you also need to know how to use it.
That's why we have also provided a guide to help you along the way.
Initially, this exercise can take some time. But once you get it started, it should be simple enough to repeat the process for the subsequent months.
Take special note of using the Labels (Productive, Consumptive, and Destructive expenses). A little tweak here and there could put you in a much better financial position.
There are various budgeting programs and websites available for free to help you with your budget. We have personally used some of the following tools.
Photo courtesy of Darren Hester
In our own exercise, we discovered that we were negative $400 every month.
What is cash flow? Our advisor reminded us that cash flow is king. We had reserve money in our savings accounts and cash value in our life insurance policies. We took out a policy loan on each of our policies and consolidated some debt.
We adjusted our withholdings to pay minimum taxes to Uncle Sam during the year. If you haven't learned by now, income tax refunds are not productive.
Instead of being in the red every month, we were able to pay off some debt, re-finance our car, and be in the black again!
The advantages of whole life insurance saved us from a cash flow crisis.
Since we created our budget, we are now cash flowing $600 every month! That's a $1000 turn around! We received the budget help we were needing.
We even opened up a hight interest savings account with ING Direct. The ING savings account earns a much higher interest rate than your typical brick and mortar bank.
We still have money in reserves in case of an emergency. The philosophy of paying interest to a credit company to hoard money in other accounts, like 401k retirement plans, are not the answer. Cash flow trumps accumulation of money.
We learned that it doesn't make sense to drive down the road with one foot on the brake (paying interest, an eroding factor of money), while trying to accelerate at the same time (having available funds in another pocket, like tax deferred investments, to pay off the debt).
Acquiring the budget help you need is necessary in your financial journey. Knowing where you are helps you pave the path to where you want to go. It also gives you a clear understanding of your financial status.
There's no way to rationalize hard numbers. So, begin tracking your budget with our Personal Budget Tracker..
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