If you have recently lost your job or you have that sense of impending doom, finances are and the lack of money springs to the front of the worry line.  It’s easy to get panicky when your not sure what the next day will bring.  The thought continually rolls through you mind of how are you going to survive this emergency.  I’ve been living on ___ much money and haven’t saved a dime, how am I going to survive on unemployment.  Or maybe you finally realize that you make a lot of money and shouldn’t be spending all of it right now.  You need to have something for a rainy day.  You are only as rich as the money you save.

The best way to take control of the situation is the sit down at the table and write out a plan.  If your married, it is vital that you do this together.  No family plan is going to work if you don’t get buy in from everyone involved.  If you’ve had trouble controlling your money, it is hard to know how much to spend in any given category.

Priority 1:  Eat and Live Indoors.
Priority 2:  Get There and Cover Up
Priority 3:  Keep Healthy
Priority 4:  Pay Debts
Priority 5:  Have Fun

To know if your out of balance in one area, the following percentages are a guide to where your money should be going:
  Savings/Retirement - 15%
  Housing - 25%
  Utilities:  10%
  Food:  14%
  Transportation:  7%
  Clothing 7%
  Medical/Healthcare:  7%
  Recreation:  5%
  Debts:  10%

There are all kinds of budget programs you can buy, but all you really need is a piece of paper, pencil and the determination to keep to the plan.  At the top write down all your income.  If you’re unsure what you are making, get your most recent bank statement. After you get your income written down, go through the above priorities and put the amounts down that you should be spending.  If you are spending too much in one area, work to reduce the amount to get it under control.  For example if you are spending $1000 a month on groceries but your income is $3000 a month, you know you need to reduce that amount.

Once you’ve gotten everything written down, work to put the plan into place.  Step one, take you credit cards out of your wallet and put them some place safe.  Later, you can cut them up.  Step two, break down the amounts you have to spend on food, clothing and recreation.  Unless you get paid once a month, you won’t have enough money at the beginning of the month to take out the entire amount at one time.  Break it down into weeks so you can focus on a small amount of time instead of an entire month.  Take cash from you bank account and separate the amounts in envelops.  The other categories aren’t ones you will likely need to carry cash to pay.  At the end of the month go back over how you did.  If you didn’t stay on budget, analyze what happen and plan for it the next month.