Elsewhere in this website you will find a lot of information about tools to manage your money and referrals to organizations that can assist you. In this section, we invite to put together all the pieces of the puzzle and create a monthly budget with "line items" reflecting your expenses, such as food, clothing, rent or mortgage, transportation, health care and so on. After you create a budget the next step is to track your spending (primarily by keeping your receipts and recording them by category), and then to evaluate your budget to see if it needs to be adjusted.
Even once you have settled on a budget, you may find that unanticipated expenses in one area (e.g auto repair) exceed what you have budgeted and what you may have socked away in a rainy day fund. A flexible budget will allow you to plan as best you can, and reduce the impact of unexpected expenses in one or more areas by reducing expenses in other areas. A good budget will allow you to see your financial situation at a glance, making it possible for you to see how much you might save or how much more income would be necessary to meet your needs and wants.
In this section, we will review several options for creating a budget and tracking expenses, online and otherwise, as well as refer you to counselors and classes you may find useful.
Additional Money Management Information
As soon as you start spending your own money, it’s time to start tracking your spending so that you can create and follow a personal budget. Keeping track of expenses, while sometimes tedious, is the best way to find out exactly where your money is going.
The simplest way to keep track of your finances, especially your cash, is the low-tech way, with a notebook and a pen. By carrying around the notebook with you, you can track exactly where every dollar is going–from a small coffee on your way to work to a spending splurge at the mall. If you’d prefer, on a daily or weekly basis, you can transfer your handwritten notes to a budget spreadsheet. (https://www.moneymanagement.org/Budgeting-Tools/Credit-Articles/Money-and-Budgeting/Make-a-Personal-Budget-and-Keep-Track-of-Spending.aspx)
- Budgeting options (e.g. income vs. cash-flow)
- Click here for information on how to create a cash flow budget and to print out a sample worksheet.
- Budget software
- A Simple Notebook - After a month of tracking all your expenses (all of them!), you'll have a clear picture of where your money's going, and you'll have most of the key details to plug into your "official" budget.
- Envelopes - Once you've figured out your budget categories and target amounts with your spending notebook, you label a bunch of envelopes and fill them with the appropriate amount of cash.
- An Excel Spreadsheet - Microsoft provides several simple budget templates, and if you're familiar with Excel, they're easy to use. For a truly free alternative, try a budget template for Google Sheets.
- Pear Budget
- Level Money
- Annual and multi-year budgeting (budget forecasting)
- Budget: A plan to show how much money a person will earn and how much they will spend.
- Line Items: Each separate item listed on a budget. For example, 'electricity' or 'groceries.'
- Expenses: The amount of money spent on something.
Links to Other Resources
- Need an ID to Access Financial Services? Click here for info on getting an Elm City Resident Card.
- Calendar of Financial Education Workshops & Classes - Register Today!
- Start a Budget Today by Filling in this Budgeting Sheet
- Want to Set Some Financial Goals? This Goal-Setting Tool Can Help.
- This Planning Sheet is a Good First Step to Creating a Financial Plan.
- Want to Figure out How to Save Money? Start with this Savings Plan Tool.
- Print out this Spending Tracker Sheet to Help Track Where Your Money is Going.
- Connecticut Money School Website
- Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative's statewide list of organizations that can help you manage your finances.
- The Connecticut Mental Health Center's list of local banks and financial nonprofits.
- The City of New Haven's directory of organizations that can help with asset building.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)