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The Best Way to Make a Budget to Avoid Arguments and Stay Out of Debt

By Sandra Wellman


I learned long ago, if you donít set aside money now that you will need for bills that are only once or twice a year, you might not have the money when it comes times to pay them. Budgeting takes discipline. Whether you have enough money to pay your bills or not, if you donít have a plan youíll get yourself in trouble and increase your debt.


Couples seem to always be arguing about money. Itís probably because we never seem to have enough of it. Hereís the way my husband and I pay our bills, and it reduces the number of arguments and heated discussions tremendously.


If you have access to a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or similar, that would be the easiest to use. If not, just write everything down on lined paper.


First, write or type the company name for all the bills you have to pay for the entire year in your first column. You may have to look in your check register to remember them all. Make sure you have all of them, leave nothing out, no matter how small.


Next, write down all the expenses you have in that same column, like groceries, pharmacy, pet food/supplies, cable, phone, dinners out etc.


In the second column, you will write the monthly amount you spend for this item. If itís a yearly bill, you need to divide it by 12 and write down that figure. Round up to the nearest dollar. For bills that are not the same, write down the average. Be careful not to guess here, but rather find the amounts in your check register for most of them, if not all, and add them together and divide by 12. This is especially critical for bills like PG&E, where the summer months are much less than the winter months (for us anyway) because we donít have air conditioning.


Always round up, not down. Donít forget anything. I mean even the yearly vet bill. Everything you spend money on should be here Ė except possibly personal items, but Iíll get into that in a minute.


Now, total the monthly column figures up. Now you have the total amount you need to deposit into your checking acct every month to always have enough to pay your bills with. When the quarterly or semi annual insurance bill comes in for $300-500, no sweat, youíve been putting money aside every month, so the money is already in your checking account to pay for it.


You need to be very disciplined every paycheck and put in what you are suppose to without fail or you will not be able to pay your bills easily every month. Why cause your self stress, just do it.


Ok, so letís look at some variables.


If youíve never lived on your own, you need to add up all the bills you know and ask your friends or family members for the other items. Get a few estimates and make your best guess. Have a separate column for misc. and set money aside for things you didnít know would come up. Make sure you will have plenty left over each month before leaving your parents house so you donít have to ask for money or get into debt to pay your bills.


You live with your wife, 2 kids and have enough money to pay your bills, but you argue over who spends what on non-essentials. Ok hereís where my personal strategy comes in. My husband and I keep a common checking account to pay our bills with. Coincidently, we have always made about the same amount per month, so we just split the bills 50/50. We each get paid twice per month, so we divide the total monthly figure from above by 4, and thatís what we each need to deposit into the checking account to have the money to pay our bills. Any additional money we make is our personal spending money that we keep in a separate acct. Each person can spend whatever they want, on anything they want, anytime they want and the other person has no say in the matter Ė argument avoided. When weíve both had plenty of extra, money, we decided to add some things to the monthly pot that we each put into. These are things like savings, IRA and vacation money.


  If you donít make similar monthly salaries, then you will need to decide what percentage to split here to divide the above total monthly expense. Try to be fair, speak softly and not get into an argument. If you canít come up with a fair solution right away, wait a bit and hopefully the other person will come around and realize they will have ďxĒ amount extra per week, while you will have nothing. If they still wonít budge, then Iíll help you make some extra money. Donít despair.


What if you donít have enough to pay your bills, whether single or married? Then you will need to do at least one of four things:

Cut your expenses as much as possible, see my article 15 Tips to Reduce Your Debt

Request payment options from your creditors (read my article on that too)

Get a Government loan or grant (read my article)

Speak to a credit counselor or debt consolidation specialist (read my article)


Once you have a monthly amount you can afford, stick to your budget so you donít have trouble paying the bills and keep out of further debt.




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For information on debt or credit counselors, or budgeting specialists, please visit our resource page, link below.

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