Budgeting Basics for Difficult Times


Here are some practical tips to look at your income and expenses; and make an action plan of your finances. 

Take the following steps:

 Start Budgeting

  • Make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it

Plan and Track Spending

  • Identify all your expenses

Total your Weekly or Monthly Expenses

  • Having more income than expenses, you are meeting your goal

Eliminating your debt faster, you can save more

Create an Emergency Fund

  • Prepare for unexpected emergencies by “setting aside” a minimum amount of money each week or month

You can track your finances weekly or monthly by using this template:


You should also identify your wants vs. your needs, and reduce your overall spending.  Below are strategies for spending less and getting through tough financial times:

  • Control Spending – focus on your needs vs. your wants
  • Food – look for sales and specials, and visit food banks as needed
  • Utilities and Household Maintenance – look for opportunities to reduce your energy consumption and keep up maintenance.  For example, turn off lights when you leave a room, and set your thermostat to keep you home at a moderate temperature
  • Transportation and Upkeep – bundle your trips to minimize spending on gas, keep your vehicle maintained to avoid large repair expenses later
  • Clothing and Personal Care – allocate a minimum amount of money to spend for clothing and personal care
  • Child Care – look for options to rotate childcare duties with a group of friends, which can lower everyone’s expenses

The above strategies for spending less can be found in the following web resource with greater detail:  http://www.toughtimes.illinois.edu/

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Thank you, and we hope that you stay safe and healthy!