Step 2: Review Expenses

In the “Current” column of the Monthly Expenses worksheet, list what you are currently spending your money on. Do not include expenses that are directly deducted from your paycheck.

Getting a part-time job or renting out a room is not a practical option for many people. However, almost everyone can reduce their spending in some way. Look over your worksheet carefully and consider what you can cut. Discretionary expenses, such as luxury clothing, dining out, and vacations, are often the easiest to trim, but you may be able to cut spending in other places too. For example, if you have a cell phone, can you cancel your land-line, or at least extra features like call waiting and caller ID? Can you carpool, walk, or take public transportation more often to save money on gasoline? Can you reduce energy consumption (by turning off lights when you are not in the room, wearing a sweater instead of turning on the heater, etc.) to lower your utility bills? Do you have any club memberships, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, or cable services that you can cancel? Write what you think you can spend in the future in the “Proposed” column.

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