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Overhauling Your Budget from Top to Bottom

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Sometimes you need to make big changes to see a lasting change. Many budget experts believe that you need to first tackle your bad spending habits before you can really see a difference in your bank account. But when you’ve been living a certain way for years, it can be difficult to even see where to begin. In this situation, you need to perform a complete budget overhaul.

Begin With Your Income

Income can be incredibly difficult to estimate — so don’t. Make sure that you know exactly how much you have in take home pay every month. If your pay varies, estimate it out based on the amount you took home the last six months; don’t try to estimate based on the most that you usually bring in. Keep in mind that if your pay is erratic you will need to be more careful with your budget. Your budget will need to be more restrictive to ensure that you have a buffer during leaner earning periods. 

Separate Your Expenses Into Needs and Wants

Go through your monthly expenses and separate every expense that you had into two piles: a “need” and a “want.” Rent is a “need” — it’s something that you cannot avoid spending money on. Going out to eat is a “want” — it’s something that you enjoy but that you don’t necessarily need to do to survive. At this stage, you don’t need to make any judgment calls on whether you’re spending too much on each item; you just need to classify all of them. Make an orderly list.

Find Ways to Reduce the Cost of Your Needs

Once you have separated your expenses, go through your needs line by line and identify areas in which you can save. Rent and transportation are two of the most costly expenses and occasionally they relate to each other; often you can save money on rent by moving farther away, but you need to spend more money on transportation to compensate. Other areas can be more straightforward; you may be paying $80 a month for a cellphone but be able to get by on a $40 month plan. Investigate alternatives for each of your budgetary line items to find sensible ways to reduce the cost. Something like downgrading your cable is likely to save you a lot of money over the course of a year but will probably not have a significant affect on your quality of life.

Pare Down Your Wants to the Things You Want the Most

When you get to your needs list, your goal is to order them by the amount that you value them. If you spend a lot of money on a multitude of hobbies, now is the time to decide which of those hobbies you enjoy the most and which gives you the most value. Ideally, you should cut your “wants” section down to the top three or top five things that you enjoy, depending on how restrictive your budget is. If you’re a foodie more than a fashion maven, you may find that getting a haircut at a salon doesn’t make the cut, but eating out once or twice a month does. If you’re a reader more than a movie buff, you may find that purchasing a few new books a month is more important than seeing a couple of new release movies in the theater. By prioritizing your wants you allow yourself to still enjoy the things that you enjoy most while cutting back on some of the expenses that really aren’t that important to your happiness. 

Put Your Budget Together

Once you have created your revised budget, it’s time to put it all together. Deduct all of your expenses, both needs and wants, from your income to see where you’re at. Remember that it’s more than just having a buffer — you also need to be able to save enough money to create both an emergency savings account and contribute to your retirement fund. Once you have a sensible budget, it’s just a matter of adhering to it on a day-to-day basis.

The goal of creating a budget isn’t simply to restrict your spending — it’s to restrict your spending in a manageable way that will still leave you comfortable and happy. When you create a budget that leaves you frustrated, bored or deprived, it’s very easy to fall back on old spending habits. Like a diet, a budget overhaul has to be done with your continued health and happiness in mind.

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Keeping Your Checkbook in Check

You have a bank account and a checkbook, but having isn’t everything. Do you know how to properly write checks and balance your checkbook? In a time when so many people are getting used to their debit and credit cards, checks still have an important place in the world. Countless people still write checks in order to pay rent, bills, and to make large purchases. There are many benefits to using checks that no other form of payment can really offer, so it’s great to always have a supply of checks on hand.

In your pursuit of becoming a financially stable and responsible person, learning how to balance your checkbook will do you wonders. By keeping a balance of your accounts, you will have a finer grasp on your finances than ever before. Most people these days rely on electronic banking systems to track when and where their money is coming in and going out. While this is a reliable method for the most part, even computers are prone to error. Also consider that we’re living in a time where identity theft is more common than ever. For these reasons, it is good to place some reliance on ourselves to manage our own finances, or at least to keep a watchful eye on things.

To get started, understanding the anatomy of a check is essential. Understanding this will help you to know what information goes where on the check itself. Armed with a checkbook register, deposit slips, paystubs, receipts, and banks statements, you’ll be well-equipped to watch your own back in order to ensure that your finances are straight.

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How to Take Control of Managing Your Finances

As you grow up you’ll notice how important it is to have a proper hold of your finances. When you want to buy a car, save for a down payment for a new home or pay down credit debt you should have peace of mind knowing that you know exactly how much money you have. Smart spending, saving and planning a budget are all good ways to manage your finances so that you do not find yourself in trouble later on.

It is a good idea to track your spending for a few weeks to a month before planning out a budget so you can see how you are currently spending your money. This allows you to spot areas where you can cut back on wasteful spending and build up savings. You will also want to keep credit card spending to a minimum so that you aren’t constantly digging yourself deeper into debt that you are unable to pay off each month.

Effective spending is also a key to taking control of your financial situation. Use coupons when possible and compare prices at different stores before making a purchase so you can ensure that you get the best possible deal. It is also recommended that you use the 50/30/20 rule when it comes to your budget: 50 percent on essentials, 30 percent on your lifestyle choices like cable and vacations, and 20 percent on financial priorities such as your savings or retirement account.

Taking a look at your current finances and reworking your budget will set you up for a bright financial future.

Take Control of Managing Your Finances

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Make Sure Your Checks Reflect Your Personality

When you open your checkbook to write a check, are you pleased with your checks? Are your personal checks drab and boring, or are they a reflection of your personality? If you are not happy with the look of your personal checks, CheckWorks is here to help. We offer a huge selection of personalized check styles to ensure that your checks match your sense of style. Whether you want a classic style in an upbeat color, or you have a soft spot for cute animals, we have the checks to fit your personality.

If you are hesitant to order your checks from somewhere other than your bank, put your worries to rest. Here at CheckWorks, we understand the importance of security when it comes to your hard-earned money. Our checks have several security features, which meet and/or exceed regulations, and include:

  • Printing our checks on chemically-sensitive paper to stop anyone from altering your checks.
  • Use of a security screen, which is light printing on the back of the checks that cannot be easily copied.
  • Use of a microprint signature line, which utilizes small letters that can only be seen with a magnifying glass; otherwise, they appear to be solid or dashed lines.
  • Other security features that are not made public to protect your sensitive information.

Now that you know your information will be secure on our printed checks, you can choose from a wide range of personal check styles. Some of the available styles include:

  • Dolphins, polar bears, elephants, kittens, puppies, and other animal designs
  • Biblical scriptures and motivational quotes, such as Live, Love, Laugh
  • Nature scenes, including flowers, leaves, and mountains
  • Cuddly, bouncing babies
  • Frogs, fish, and other aquatic scenes
  • Islands, beaches, and blue sky scenes

CheckWorks ensures that you have plenty of styles to choose from, so you can have personal checks that reflect your personality. Contact us today to learn more about our security features and our huge selection of check styles. It is time to start using checks that bring a smile to your face every time you open your checkbook — and which even bring a smile to the face of the recipient!