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  Monthly Expense Record (pdf)
  3-Month Expense Record (Excel)
  Monthly Expense Record (html pages)
  Monthly Budget Planner (pdf)
  Monthly Budget Planner (Excel)
  Monthly Budget Planner (html page)
Keys to success

As you proceed through creation and implementation of the various spending plans, don't think of them as being etched in stone. If you do, and you spend more on an item than you've planned, you'll only find yourself frustrated and tempted to give up. Use your plan as a guide and make changes as needed. If you constantly overspend in an area, you need to change the projected amount for that category. Check your figures periodically to keep an eye on how you're doing. If you never have enough money to make ends meet -- you're using credit cards and not paying the balance in full each month -- it's time to adjust even more.

After you have created each plan, we recommend that you track your expenses every day just like you did in the very beginning. Monitor your results every week and compare them to the weekly amount you identified for that category. Make changes as necessary. Also, be realistic about what changes you are prepared to make, and ensure that you reward yourself as you proceed. If at all possible, fun should be part of your spend plan, albeit a small part. As you get better at planning, and learn how to also save for your financial goals, you will learn to live on what you make, and also how to sacrifice and still have fun!

If you find that you have made all the changes that you can, and you still don't have enough money every month, you may need to consider some larger changes.

  • Is it time to have a yard sale, and sell everything but the kitchen sink?
  • Could you work an extra job to help pay for your lifestyle?
  • Are there expensive bills in your plan that could possibly be lowered by making a drastic change?
  • If you can't afford a car payment, is it possible to replace your new car with an older used car to lower or eliminate your car payments?
  • Is it feasible to move into a cheaper apartment, or sell your house and move into an apartment until your situation improves?
  • Can you refinance your mortgage to lower your interest rate and payments, or can you consolidate and lower your debt payments with a home equity loan?

Try everything you can to succeed. Read the articles in this section, and also in our section on Ways to save money. If the changes to make are still not apparent, or don't seem to work for you, consider getting some professional financial counseling and help.

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