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Budgeting and Spending Plans

Developing a budget or spending plan helps you to see what is happening with your money—and gives you a tool for controlling your money.

If you need help setting up an everyday budget, click here for the forms that will help you.

If you're having difficulty paying bills, click here for help in setting up a crisis or priority budget.

Take a Look at Your Money

Before you budget, take a look at your money—where it comes from, where it goes, and what you think about it. Use these forms to help!

Start Budgeting Today

Now, it's time to budget. These forms are similar, so print and use the one that you're most comfortable with:

  • Setting up a Budget – Includes detailed instructions, so you can get a handle on your finances and develop a budget and plan for paying bills.

Set up a Crisis or Priority Budget

A crisis budget or priority budget is used to help you get over a temporary financial problem, such as a short-term loss of income due to a lay off or a temporary increase in expenses due to a medical emergency. This kind of budget is not realistic for a long term, but can be used for 3-12 months to help you find the money you need to keep your home.

If your financial problems are expected to last for a longer time, click here for steps you can take.

When you are facing a financial crisis and are unable to meet all of your financial obligations, you need to prioritize your bills and obligations. You will need to spend your money paying for the highest priority items first. Your crisis budget will not include all of the items in a regular budget. Some things will need to get cut out temporarily, and some bills will not be able to be paid.

Step 1: Identify priority items.

  1. Food – You and your family need food! You can save money here by eliminating restaurant meals and carefully planning your meals and food purchases. Click here for information to help you stretch your food dollar.
  2. Shelter – Your mortgage or rent payment takes priority over other spending. Evaluate your current housing situation and determine if you need to move to lower cost housing to help in the long run.
  3. Utilities – Contact your utility companies and let them know you are experiencing financial difficulty. You might be be able to get on a reduced plan.
  4. Transportation – You need to get to work and back to earn your paycheck. To save money, review your spending on transportation. You may be able to take advantage of lower cost public transportation to reduce the need for an automobile. You may need to get rid of a second automobile or sell your current model for a for a lower cost used model. These options can also save on insurance costs. Review and compare your auto insurance and take advantage of group discounts often offered by credit unions.

Step 2: Contact United Way’s 2-1-1 system.

United Way's 2-1-1 system might be able to help you with utilities, food, and other necessities to help you free up money to pay your mortgage.

Step 3: Look at your other bills.

You may not be able to pay your other bills, loans and credit cards. Contact the companies that you owe money to and explain to them that you are having a temporary financial crisis and you are trying to save your home. Ask for temporary suspension or lower payments.

Seek the advice of a housing counselor or a credit counselor and let your creditors know you are working with them. Realize that your credit score may take a hit from reducing or suspending payments on your other bills and obligations.

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