If you’re looking for debt settlement, one great place to start is with your own finances. Getting your finances organized is a key step in getting yourself on the road to financial freedom. If you’ve never done something like this before, it will take some time to set up your system, but once you’ve got yourself organized, keeping track of your money will be much easier.
First, decide whether you want to track your finances electronically or on paper. There are advantages to each method, but in the long run, an electronic record of your transactions will probably be more versatile. Also, if you’re married or otherwise in a relationship with another person, and you share finances, your system will have to work for two people.
If you decided to go the electronic route, there are several free programs you can use to help you keep track of your expenditures and your budget. Though the two are related, they’re not the same. Your expenditures are your actual purchases and payments. Your budget is the plan you’ll use to make spending decisions.
The free programs run the gamut from very basic checkbook registers, to complicated budget planning and expense tracking programs. You may also be able to import statement data from your bank, and export data from your finance program to other software tools. These tools do take longer to set up, so don’t lose heart if this takes longer than you think it should. You can find a wide selection of these programs at Web sites like Tucows.
Make a list of your established electronic payments and the date(s) on which these payments are withdrawn from your bank account. Don’t forget to include any periodic payments that may happen only once or twice each year.
Collect your bank statements from the last 6-12 months. You may want to enter some starting data to get your finance program rolling. If not, your statements are still good to have on hand, because they’ll help you when you start planning your budget.
Have a calendar handy. You’ll need to mark specific dates that bills and special payments are due, and you’ll also need to mark paydays. This will help you keep track of your cash flow from paycheck to paycheck.
When you’re ready to start, you’ll need to track all of your expenses, the date they occur and what effect they have on your bank account. It may take a month or two to get into the habit of maintaining your own financial records. If you get into the habit of doing this regularly, you’ll find that balancing your checkbook each month will be easier and you’ll have better control of your finances.