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Money Mondays: How to Create and Stick to Your Budget

Money Mondays logo

The new year is almost here and it is the perfect time to make some important financial decisions to start 2014 on the right track.

Did you get a job, a raise or a promotion this year? If you were lucky enough to increase your income in 2013, it might be the perfect time to create a budget if you haven’t done so already. The first step toward financial independence is developing a budget and then sticking to it, which can be hard during the holidays.

Here are steps to create a monthly budget so you can plan how to pay your expenses and save for your goals:


Money Mondays: Creating a Budget Today to Improve Your Tomorrow

By Guest Blogger Djuna Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell was featured on a recent Ticket to Work webinar. She is a beneficiary, Community Work Incentive Coordinator (CWIC) and Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Project Director. Currently, she works for Social Security as a Social Insurance Specialist.  

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” The first step on the journey to financial independence is a budget. You can use a budget to plan how to pay your expenses and save for your goals.  I’ll be talking about a monthly budget, but you can create a budget for any period you like.

Here are the steps to create a budget:

  1. Write down all of your income and where it comes from.  Remember to include any interest you’ve earned and any financial help you received from family and friends.  Add it all up.
  2. Write down all of your expenses.  Be sure to include “pocket” or spending  money. Keep track for seven days, making note of how much you spend each time you buy something.  At the end of the seven days, add up how much you spent.  There are about four weeks in each month, so multiply your total by four and you will have a good estimate of your expenses per month.
  3. Subtract your expenses from your income. If you find that you have money left over after you’ve paid for your expenses, open a savings account at your bank or credit union and set a savings goal. Maybe you want to start an emergency fund or save for college or job training or even to buy a home.  Whatever your goal, having savings will get you there faster!
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Financial Literacy Tips for People with Disabilities

April is National Financial Literacy Month!  The topic of finance is has special meaning for people with disabilities.  The Ticket to Work program wants to share some tips to help you take charge of your money. Did you know that if you receive SSDI or SSI benefits, you must tell Social Security about any changes in your earnings, your living situation, or other circumstances that affect your financial status?  

Below are three practical tips you can apply this month:

Tip #1: Create a budget

Have you ever wondered at the end of the month, “Where did all my money go?” A good way to avoid this is to track your expenses and create a budget. Read budget tips from The Federal Trade Commission. You can also download free templates online, such as this “Expense Worksheet” from FinancialLiteracyMonth.com.

Tip #2: Keep your information up-to-date

Protect your earnings by avoiding overpayments. An overpayment is when you receive more money than what you should have been paid by Social Security. Take an active role to safeguard your earnings by keeping your information up-to-date with Social Security. This means reporting when you start and stop working and if you change your hours or rate of pay. It also means reporting if you have a change in living arrangements, as well as your resources such as bank accounts or cars. Watch our March 2012 webinar, “Preventing and Managing Overpayments: A Webinar for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries” to learn more. You can also download the transcript, audio and presentation slides here.