Make a Budget
This Make a Budget (opens new window) worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission, helps you evaluate which expenses are flexible and which are fixed. Use the worksheet for at least two or three consecutive months. This will give you an idea of how you are spending your money and changes you can make to improve your situation.
Here is a quick review of the two types of expenses, fixed and flexible, to help get you started.
Fixed expenses are items you have little or no control over. You will pay a fixed amount for these expenses each month. Remember, you have some control over certain expenses before you sign a contract, for example, a short term or payday loan, car loan, or home mortgage. You should shop for the best value before committing to the payments.
- Health insurance, car insurance, life insurance and homeowners or renters insurance
- Rent or mortgage
- Auto loan or lease payment
Flexible expenses are expenses that you can control. When thinking about flexible expenses, think about what you need and what you want. Is it a necessity or a discretionary expense? This will help you control your spending in this category. What are some ways that you could control the costs of these expenses? Also, make sure to pay yourself first. Set aside money from each paycheck and put it towards your savings.
- Groceries, coffee or restaurants
- Gasoline, internet, cable, phone or cell phone
- Car or home repair
- Activities or hobbies
- Emergency Savings
If you are having trouble paying your mortgage or other bills, reach out to a HUD-certified housing counselor (opens new window) at (888) 995-HOPE. Housing counselors can help you contact and work with your lender to get help with your mortgage, and also provide free budget and credit advice.