Financial Priorities

A family budget can help you control your expenses, but many people are uncomfortable with the concept or worried that they won’t stick to a budget long enough for it to become a habit. It takes some planning, but the U.S. News & World Report website has some advice:

• Bring everyone together. You should all be on the same page. If not, have an honest discussion about your individual and joint goals. Do so regularly.

• Establish a consistent way to track income and expenses. This is a crucial first step. Figure out how much money you bring in every month and what bills you have to pay. This helps you set priorities.

Evaluate your spending. Look at everything you all spend your money on— bills, food, entertainment and everything else. Look for areas where you can keep expenses down.

• Build your savings. Set aside a certain amount of money every month to put into savings. It doesn’t have to be a lot. In time, even a modest monthly sum can grow into something substantial, so look at the long term.

• Reduce debt. Don’t carry a balance on your credit cards. Pay down any other loans as fast as you reasonably can. The less debt you have, the more breathing room you have for the future.

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