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Harris-Courage & Grady, PLLC Dec. 27, 2015

Start the New Year with new financial habits. Make this year the year you overcome your debt problems. We’re here to help you with this week-by-week plan.

Take control of your finances this year and look forward to your secure future.

Week 1: Create a Budget

A budget is key to financial security. With a budget, you will always know where your money is going. You will be able to plan ahead and deal with expenses when they arrive, instead of relying on credit for emergencies. To obtain financial stability, you must have a budget.

  • List all of your income sources. Write down how often you are paid, and how much. Include your tax refund, as well as any infrequent work or income.

  • Next, list all of your expenses. Include fixed expenses, like your mortgage or rent, insurance, and car payments. Also list variable expenses, such as groceries, utilities, home and vehicle maintenance, and recreation. Variable expenses can be more difficult to estimate, but it’s important to plan for them.

  • Write down the amounts of your debts, and the minimum payments for each. If your debt is overwhelming, give us a to see if bankruptcy might be a good option for you.

Does your income exceed your expenses? Where could you reduce your expenses? Make a plan for your money this week. You may want to use free budgeting apps, such as Mint, Goodbudget, or Mvelopes to help you keep track of your budget.

Week 2: Plan Your Savings

Saving money will free you from having to live paycheck to paycheck or relying on credit to meet unexpected needs. Savings provide freedom and reduce stress. It’s never too early or too late to start to save.

  • Write your savings goals. It’s easier to save for something than just to put money away. Make a short-term savings goal, such as a $500 emergency fund or a vacation. Next, make a longer-term goal. This could be savings for a down payment on a house, retirement savings, or college tuition for your children.

  • Plan to meet your goal. You may have to revisit your budget and make more room for your savings. Look for ways to reduce your wasteful or unnecessary spending.

  • Set up a different account for each saving goal. Short-term goals can be kept in a standard savings account. Longer-term goals should be kept in accounts that will help the balance grow over a longer period of time, like CDs, mutual funds, or stocks.

Week 3: Deal with Your Debts

How are you going to get out of debt? We have a free book that discusses many different ways you can get out of debt. Bankruptcy is frequently the best and fastest way to eliminate debt and get on the road to a fresh financial start. Call us for a free, confidential, no-obligation phone consultation to see if bankruptcy might be right for you.

Week 4: Increase Your Income

When you increase your income, you’ll have more money to increase your savings, get out of debt, and achieve your other financial goals. Take time this week to consider ways to increase your income. One easy way is to sell items you don’t need or don’t frequently use. You can also turn a hobby into a source of income. What skills or talents do you have that someone might pay you for? As you are able to obtain extra income, be sure that you use it towards your financial goals.

Take charge of your finances this year. Don’t be controlled by your debts or poor habits. Stick to your new financial plan, and make 2016 your year for a fresh financial start.