Financial Education: Money Matters

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Budgeting Tools

To successfully use any budgeting tool, you must keep accurate records. Some tips to improve your record keeping include:

  • Keep records in a safe place in your home or in a safe deposit box.
  • Organize your files so it is easier for you to find information about your earnings and spending and to update important financial information.
  • Keep your tax records for at least 3 years.
  • Send in your bill payments 7-10 days before they are due to avoid late fees.

Below are several different types of budgeting tools you can use. Be sure to use the one you are most comfortable with. You can also try the Monthly Payment Schedule Worksheet or the Monthly Payment Calendar.

Expense Envelope System

  • This tool is useful if you pay your bills with cash each month.
  • Make an envelope for each expense category (rent, utilities, food, etc.).
  • Label the envelope with the purpose, amount and date due.
  • When you receive income, divide it into amounts to cover the expenses listed on the envelopes.
  • Pay bills right away, so you won't be tempted to spend the money for something else.

Budget Box System

  • The budget box is a small box with dividers for each day of the month, like a filing system.
  • When you receive a bill, check the due date and place it behind the card that represents the due date.
  • As you receive income, pay all the bills that are due.

Computer System

  • If you have access to personal computers, you can create your own spreadsheet. You may also want to purchase a personal finance program. They are available for less than $75. Using a computer to manage your finances is relatively easy. Once you set up the system, updating information is quick and easy. It is important to enter transactions frequently to truly understand your financial position.