If you ever wanted to get ahead financially… if you ever thought you wanted to get out from under a sea of debt… if you ever wondered where the money went… YOU NEED A BUDGET! But how do you develop a good budget and how do you stick with it?

Developing a Workable Budget
Review your last 12 months of check registers. If you find any cash withdrawals without an explanation other than “miscellaneous”, you must record all cash transactions for the next 30 days. It is imperative that you know where ALL money goes.

Insure you can account for each of the last 12 months of deposits written in
your register. If not, find out what they are. You must know all incoming monies.

Beginning at the top in the left hand column of at least a 4 column note pad,
write all income source labels down the column-- i.e. INCOME: Wages, Bonuses, Other, Total Income, etc. Below this enter the obligations found in the check registers such as: Mortgage/Rent, Food, Insurance, Utilities, Phone, etc. Don't forget periodic expenses such as: Home or Auto Repair, Other Transportations, Entertainment, Gifts/Donations, Healthcare, Property or Other Taxes.

Leave a couple spaces labeled "Miscellaneous" and "Total Expense".

Find the payments you have made in the check registers for each expense.
Enter the amount on your budget pad column 2. For irregular amounts take a three or more month total and divide by the total months. For annual or semi-annual expenses divide by 12 or 6 to get a monthly amount.

At the top of your budget pad, label the other two columns... "Actual Expense" and "Difference".

At the end of each month, enter the actual total for each expense.
Determine the difference between budget column and actual column.

If there is a difference either adjust the budget or determine a way to reduce this

Motivation To Stay On A Budget
Step 1: Write down specifically what you are trying to do and by when. It must have a concrete time frame, it must be written down, and it must be specific and realistic. For example wanting "more money " is not the same as "10% increase over last year by October first."

Step 2: What are the obstacles? What are your inadequacies? What do you need to get there that you don't already have? What is it that's blocking you? Why aren't you already there?

Step 3: Write a plan to overcome EACH obstacle. List your action steps 1... 2... 3... etc. for each obstacle from above. Be as specific as possible. What will it take to get you past the obstacle that is blocking you from what you want?

Step 4: List the benefits to you. There is no such thing as something for nothing. You must replace a thought process and resulting action with a new thought process that will produce a desired result. There must be a benefit derived of sufficient value and meaning to you alone to be worth the effort necessary to do this and to overcome the resistance to change.

Step 5: Is it worth it? This question must be answered very carefully and honestly. If the answer is yes, do it and DO IT NOW! However, if the answer is no, if the benefit derived cannot muster the desire to overcome the obstacle, you have three choices:

Change the goal thereby reducing the obstacle;
and/or increase the benefit to make it more meaningful.
Drop the entire issue and get on with your life without feeling guilty.

Bonus Step: If you really want to stay motivated you will have to reinforce your efforts through affirmations or self talk. In a few places around the house, place a simple statement of what you are trying to do and repeat the statement as often as possible. The more often you do it the faster the process.

Readers will probably be interested to know Mike, the author of this article, also offers a free debt elimination mini-course via e-mail. You can enroll at Debt Free In 7.5 Years.

Author's Bio: 

Mike has been an Internet Guide/Writer in the field of Credit/Debt Management for over 10 years. His site was awarded Best Of Net by Forbes Publication from 2000 to 2005 with site visitation doubling to over 500,000 average views per month in the last year.

He has also offered debt elimination seminars to businesses and community colleges for the last 9 years, and has written for several publications, and has been interviewed on the radio a number of times.