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Learn... Plan... Act... Save

Build Your Plan
  Identify your financial goals (from Financial Plan section)
  Determine the cost of your goals and required savings (from Financial Plan section)
  Emergency funds
  Analyze your spend plan
  Create your money management plan
Calculators
  Budget Planning Calculator
  Budget Tracking Calculator
  Budget Comparison Calculator (Bankrate)
  Budget Comparison Calculator (CNN Money)
Tools
  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)
Create your money management plan

As you become successful with your money management plan, and discover that you have money left over at the end of the month, you will want to explore your financial goals and begin distributing your new found savings toward achievement of those goals.

Now that you have learned to create and implement a detailed spend plan, and you've become successful at living on what you make, it's time to add even more to your plan. This section addresses the creation of your overall money management plan which includes spending and savings, the latter for emergency funds and financial goals (retirement, college, etc.). Creation of this plan includes the following steps:

  • Define savings for your financial goals
  • Thoroughly analyze previous spending results and identify changes
  • Create initial money management plan
  • Continue to monitor cash flow
  • Make adjustments as necessary
  • Create final money management plan

This process starts with exploring your financial goals and adding this data to your plan. This is the savings part that includes contributions to your emergency funds, debt elimination, retirement and college savings, and even fun. You will need to identify your goals, and then define the necessary savings to accomplish each goal. Our planning section includes:

You will need to visit each of these sections to define your goals, their cost, the timeframes, and the savings necessary to achieve these goals. The respective sections include details, worksheets and calculators that will help you through this process. Once you have documented the amount you wish to save each pay period for these goals, you will be ready to continue with development of your money management plan. There are a couple of key things to consider during this step.

  • The first thing you save for should be at least a minimal amount in your emergency funds
  • Even though you have lots of possible goals, it's best to pick one or two and learn how to save for them. You can always add more goals to your plan later.
  • Allocate your goal savings by week. For example, if you identify that you need to save $200 a month for one of your goals, try saving $50 a week or whatever the equivalent is for each pay period.

The next step will be to carefully analyze your previous cash flow results from your detailed spend plan. The purpose will be to identify ways to cut your expenses and identify the savings that you want to apply to your defined goals. To assist you in this step, we have provided a process for thoroughly analyzing your spend plan.

Once you have decided what changes you can make to your spend plan, then it's time to create another version of your detailed spend plan that now includes savings for your goals. Follow the same process that you did in creating the last spend plan, and then add in your savings goals as new expenses for each month. If you prefer a more automated method of developing your plan, you also might consider using Excel spreadsheets or even online calculators, such as those shown below, for creating your actual money management plan.

Excel spreadsheets for your spend plan

Online calculator for creating your spend plan

•  Kiplinger

Of course, using these new methods will require that you learn how to use them (although the calculator is pretty easy), know how their categories translate to your categories, what amounts to fill in each blank, etc.

Once you finish adjusting amounts in other categories to accommodate your savings requiremetns, then you will have the basics of your new money management plan. Of course, the only way to know if it will truly work is to implement the plan, monitor the cash flow, and adjust when necessary. As you work through this process, you should reach a point where you are comfortable with the spend and save portions of the plan, at which time you can now expand the plan to cover a longer-term, up to as much as a year. This will allow you to begin planning well in advance of all of your expenses, both predictable and irregular, and with the savings portion beginning to grow, you will be on your way to achieving financial success.

Next section - Keys to success

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