Having a Budget Can Help Chicago Residents Start Saving and Pay Down Debt

Can there ever be too much of a good thing? Maybe when it comes to budgeting.

Don't get me wrong - sticking to a budget is not only smart, but it can help you kick start a savings plan and even pay down credit card debt and other obligations. Problem is, Chicago consumers have heard so much about the merits of bankruptcy since the recession started that many of us are beginning to tune out. We've been oversaturated.

Going without a budget might save you some work, but it will cost you. Whether you've got a stable salary (is there really such a thing?) or no income whatsoever, a budget is just a way to ensure the money in your bank account goes towards the things that matter most to you - whether that means saving for a house, a vacation to Hawaii or finding freedom from debt.

The beauty of a budget is its ability to make everything clearer. Look at a budget as a map of your spending. It can show you where your money is going currently so you can see where to make adjustments if necessary. That way you can plot a map for your future spending.

You'll start out by adding up your expenditures for the last few months, so you can get an idea of how much is going to the utility bill, the cable, groceries, etc. You might have to go through some piles of receipts, but some of this information will probably be on your bank statement, in your checkbook or on a credit card bill. Now comes the analysis. Maybe you didn't realize you were spending $500 a month on restaurant meals. Now that you're aware, you might choose to reduce that number so you can allocate some of that money towards your house savings. Or if eating out truly is the high point of your week, maybe you'd rather eliminate something else - like cable. It's up to you.

Worried you might not have the time - or skills - to create a budget? Don't sweat it - you don't have to be a math whiz. Today's software programs can practically create a spending plan for you. Just enter the numbers into a spreadsheet. Some programs come on your computer; others - like Mint.com - are free online. Some may even remind you when you're close to busting your budget - and provide tips on how to get back on track.

Of course, sometimes the obstacle isn't getting started. It's that you've got so much debt, you couldn't cut spending if you tried. In that case, a budget isn't enough - but bankruptcy might be. Filing for bankruptcy can get you a more affordable payment plan for your debt, so you can finally start saving. Want to know more? It's free with a personal debt analysis, courtesy of one of our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys. There's nothing to lose - except that debt.

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