Money Mondays: Creating a Budget Today to Improve Your Tomorrow
By Guest Blogger Djuna Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell was featured on a recent Ticket to Work webinar. She is a beneficiary, Community Work Incentive Coordinator (CWIC) and Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Project Director. Currently, she works for Social Security as a Social Insurance Specialist.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” The first step on the journey to financial independence is a budget. You can use a budget to plan how to pay your expenses and save for your goals. I’ll be talking about a monthly budget, but you can create a budget for any period you like.
Here are the steps to create a budget:
- Write down all of your income and where it comes from. Remember to include any interest you’ve earned and any financial help you received from family and friends. Add it all up.
- Write down all of your expenses. Be sure to include “pocket” or spending money. Keep track for seven days, making note of how much you spend each time you buy something. At the end of the seven days, add up how much you spent. There are about four weeks in each month, so multiply your total by four and you will have a good estimate of your expenses per month.
- Subtract your expenses from your income. If you find that you have money left over after you’ve paid for your expenses, open a savings account at your bank or credit union and set a savings goal. Maybe you want to start an emergency fund or save for college or job training or even to buy a home. Whatever your goal, having savings will get you there faster!
- If your budget doesn’t leave any room for savings, take a look at your expenses and see where you may be able reduce them.
- Look at your ”must-have” luxury items and find ways to enjoy them without paying a lot. For example, I am a newlywed who loves a good roast beef sandwich from the deli. My husband, on the other hand, considers coffee almost as necessary as air! When we sat down and reviewed our expenses, we realized that we could save $200 per month by packing our lunches and making coffee instead of buying it
- See if you can reduce the cost of your necessities. Contact your gas, water and electricity providers and ask if they offer a budget plan. Budget plans help you plan for utility costs, and avoid being hit by large bills some months while other months’ bills are small. If you have a credit card, and have made your payments consistently and on time, ask if your credit card company is willing to lower your interest rate or monthly payments.
- After you develop a budget, be sure to review it regularly. Remember that your budget can be changed if your situation changes. For example, if you pay off a regular debt, like your credit card, you will have more money to put toward your savings goal or toward other debts. For help creating a budget, contact your local center for independent living at http://www.ilru.org/html/publications/directory/index.html and check out the Money Matters section of the Money Smart curriculum at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/.
Read more money saving tips at #MoneyMondays!
Besides creating a budget, one of the most successful ways you can increase your income and change your life for the better is through work. If you are age 18 through 64, and receive Social Security benefits (SSDI or SSI) due to a disability, the Ticket to Work may be right for you! Ticket to Work is Social Security’s free, voluntary program that can support you on your way to a good job, a good career, and a better self-supporting future! For information, visit choosework.ssa.gov, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD). We’ll be happy to discuss your options!