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Making A Budget - For The Military Family

by: Bridget Daniels Carlson

Making a budget can seem like a daunting task, but is a must to control out of control spending. It is best to sit down with your spouse and make the budget together (if possible).

First thing is first, print out our budget worksheet to help you get started. And then follow these steps to create your budget.

Figure out your monthly income. This includes Base pay, BAH (even if you live on post/base), BAS, spouse’s income, child support received, etc... These figures should be BEFORE taxes or any other deductions. Add all figures together to get your monthly combined income.

Figure out monthly expenses. If you have been using money management software take a look at where your money has been going. If not, then grab all monthly bills and your LES to see what is being deducted before you see your money. Include Rent (or BAH being taken back out for living on post/base), cell, electric, water, trash, day care, gas, car insurance, car payment, cable, renters insurance, groceries, entertainment, taxes (look on your last LES or pay stub), allotments, and any other expenses you may have. If an expense fluctuates, estimate it towards the higher end.

Include a payment to your savings in your monthly expense. Even if it is just $10 / month, it will quickly add up and also help your form a habit of saving.

Subtract your expenses from your income. What you have left over is the money you are not using. If your budget shows you have money left over, but your money is running out before the next pay period, you have forgotten to include an expense. This is a great reason to have money management software (such as Microsoft Money or Quicken), so you can quickly and easily track every transaction you make, even if it is just for a piece of gum.

Lower expenses and remove un-needed items from your budget. Look closely at your budget. Can you cut down or remove an expense? Take a cable bill for instance. Do you really watch all 500 channels that you are paying for? No you don't, so go to a smaller package and save some money. Same goes for cell phone bills. Look at the past year of cell usage and choose your highest usage bill. Is it considerably lower than the minutes you are paying for? If so lower it to the plan that falls within that high usage.

Readjust your budget. Once you have removed and made a commitment to lower those expenses, reflect it on your budget and re-calculate your "left over monthly money".

Make a plan for left over money. If you are in debt the first thing you should do is work on paying off that debt. Start with paying the high interest credit cards off first, and then so on and so on.

Readjust your budget. Readjust your budget to reflect where that extra money will be spent. If you chose to pay off a credit card, it should reflect that amount under your credit card payment in your expenses. If you choose to put it in savings it should reflect that under the savings row in expenses, etc….



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July 18, 2001

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