Reader Question: I work long hours, and I make pretty good money. The problem is the money from my paychecks always seems to disappear before the end of the month. I know part of the problem is grabbing quick meals between extra shifts, and eating out a lot after work, because I’m usually too tired to cook when I get home. How can someone who has very little free time start gaining control of their finances?
No matter how little free time you think you have, or how tired you are, you must make time do a written budget every month. This is essential. Making a budget for the month ahead isn’t a lot of hard work, and it really doesn’t take long. When you give every dollar a name before the month begins, you’re taking control of your money instead of allowing a lack of it to control you.
Start with the income you know is predictable. If that isn’t possible, look back over the last few months and find the minimum amount you brought home during a month over that period of time. This will be the basis for your budget. Once you’ve established a baseline income, you can write down and prioritize bills and other expenses. Just remember, restaurants are not a priority!
When you make a prioritized spending plan, and start telling your money what to do ahead of time, you’ll have the ability to do what’s important with what you’ve earned!