Money management: Back to budgeting basics - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Money management: Back to budgeting basics

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email 

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Are you the type to put away money for a rainy day, or are you the type to save nothing at all?

"My husband and I have a budget and we try and stick to it," says Maggie Portillo.

Portillo represents the 58% of Americans who actually take the time to track spending against a budget, according to a recent survey from Bankrate.com.  She and her husband also stash away a portion every month into savings.  "It's surprising how much you can save if you plan to save"

That's where Portillo is in the minority. The same survey found only 24% of Americans have a six months savings built up, the same percentage saved nothing at all.

"If you wait until what's leftover at the end of the month and try to save that, nothing's left over, nothing gets saved," says Bankrate.com's Greg McBride.

Experts say basic budgeting begins with setting goals, understanding what you hope to accomplish.

Consumer Credit Counseling's Lerone Harper says he advises clients to establish what he coins a top nine.  "Your top three wants, then your top three short term goals and your top three long term goals and you just put them in a list and eventually, they're going to add purpose to your budget," says Harper.

Next, track your spending.  "We need to know in a given time span how much money is coming into the house."

Harper says if your spending habits and income don't balance, it's time to make some adjustments.

"Maybe more income, maybe looking to see what else is going to be cut out," Harper adds.

Experts also say it's important to remember the plan should be flexible, as your life changes, your budget should as well.  Finally, have fun.  Once you've paid the bills and stacked money away in savings, Harper says it's time to incorporate some of those wants.

So, as we all worry about the country's financial stability, it's a strong reminder that getting back to the basics keeps us all accountable.

"Holding your feet to the fire, tracking that spending and knowing where that money's going is really the pathway toward greater savings," McBride says.

Here are a couple of online tools to assist with budgeting and money management:

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