The Budget: Total up your fixed expenses and your flexible expenses. Subtract this total from your total income. If there is something left over, congratulations! You are living within your means. This would be a good time to decide where you can accelerate payment on your fixed expenses. If there is nothing left, or if your expenses exceed your income, it is time to sit down and seriously consider where you can cut back in order to start living a financially responsible life. It is in the context of a working budget that the measures mentioned before – couponing, brown bagging it, conserving energy, and others – truly work!
If you’re budgeted for $125 a week for groceries, but with coupons you bring your total down to $115, you’ve generated $10 that can be applied to paying off debt or to one of your special accounts such as the vacation fund. What? You don’t have a vacation fund? Well, you should! This is where saving comes in. Make saving a priority. To do this, pay yourself first. Twenty dollars one way or the other will not break most of us. When your paycheck gets deposited, take twenty dollars (or more if you can) and put it in a savings account.
Your immediate goal is to have three months of living expenses (total of your fixed and flexible expenses) stashed away as a cushion against loss of income. Once you have done this you can start saving for special expenses such as family vacations, new cars and other extravagances. Finally, and most importantly, you need to remember that your budget is a living document. Don’t tack it to the fridge and forget about it. Reevaluate your expenses from time to time. Certainly, changes in lifestyle require a reworking of your budget.
However, in reality, no budget will stand the test of time. The smallest raise or the slightest increase in expenses need to be integrated into your budget and considered in the grand scheme. Now Choosing Which Health Insurance? Health insurance allows you to budget for and prepay certain medical expenses. There are many factors to consider in determining what type of health insurance, if any, best meet your needs and those of your family. With any health plan, there is a basic premium, which is how much you or your employer pay, usually monthly, to buy health insurance coverage.
In addition, there are often other payments you must make, which will vary by plan. In considering any plan, you should try to figure out its total cost to you and your family, especially if someone in the family has a chronic or serious health condition. There are two basic categories of health insurance plans: indemnity and managed care. These categories differ in their basic approach, both in how much you have to pay and how easy it is to get the services you need. Although no plan will pay for all the costs associated with your medical care, some plans will cover more than others.