A sound financial plan starts with a solid budget. If you’re planning a vacation or paying off bills a budget is crucial to meeting your financial goals. Here are 7 steps to creating a winning budget:

  1. Understand Your Expenses. “How much are you spending each month?”

Record what you are spending. Gather check registers, bank statements, receipts, and financial files. Microsoft Excel has a nice budget spreadsheet template you can use. Just modify or change any categories, or specific items. All the math is done for you. Open Microsoft Excel click File New Personal Monthly Budget. It has a projected and actual monthly budget so you can track and stay within budget. You can save the file for each month of the year to track your spending.

Personal Monthly Budget
Personal Monthly Budget

2. Set Realistic Goals

After setting up your budget you can see how much money is coming in and how much is going out. If you are spending more than is coming in, you need to look for opportunities to reduce or eliminate spending to improve cash flow. Review categories in your budget and use the projected cost column to set your budget, using realistic goals, for each category. Then enter the total spending for each category in the actual cost column. You can then see the difference for each category and adjust each month to stay within budget.

3. Live Within Your Means

Review your monthly income and live within your means. It takes discipline and sacrifice to stay within a budget until you can do better. To improve your take home pay you may work overtime if available, work a second job. ask for a raise, get that degree etc.

4. Determine Needs and Wants

Make your budget based on your needs first and if extra money is available you can budget for that summer vacation, shopping spree or whatever else you want. Otherwise, use the extra cash to build a cushion so you have carryover each month. Get serious about your needs and wants. When you can see where your money goes you will find ways to save.

5. Build a 3 to 6 Month Cushion For Emergencies

Build a 3 to 6-month cushion in your account to address emergencies such as losing a job, a medical emergency, automobile repair, or replacing a refrigerator etc. You know things “come up” set money aside to pay these expenses.

6. Pay Yourself First

Pay yourself first each month. Invest in your 401K at work a percentage you can afford. Try to contribute an amount equal to your company matching. Most companies match between 3% to 6%. That is free money Folks!

7. Put Your Budget into Action

Balance your budget with your income. It may take a few months to adjust but once your budget is balanced you will be more in control of your life and reduce stress. Take control of your spending. It is good Money Sense.

In conclusion, following the above 7 steps will have you on your way to a winning financial budget plan and is good Money Sense.


On the standard a 300-850 range is used by FICO, a credit score of 800+ is considered “perfect.” That's because higher scores won't really save you any money. The number helps lenders decide how much of a credit risk you are. Paying attention to your credit score is a vital part of your financial health. Here are 8 Steps to a 800 Credit Score:

1. Understand the Facts. “What is a perfect credit score?”

It’s a three-digit number that determines how much you pay for credit. It can affect all expenses in your life. Lenders use it to determine how much of a credit risk you are.

2. Establish a Long Credit History

Building your credit score takes time. It takes a history of good habits and on time payments. You must have an account opened 6 months or longer and at least one creditor reporting your activity to the credit bureaus the last 6 months. Keep accounts open unless you have a compelling reason to close an account. Closing an account can hurt your credit utilization and reduce your average account age.

3. Pay Your Bills on Time

Make 100% of your payments on time. This includes credit accounts and other accounts such as utility bills. Unpaid bills that go to a collection agency will seriously hurt your credit score.

4. Redefine Credit Card Usage

Stick to one or two cards for simplicity. This will help you manage your credit score. Pay them off each month in full. Be disciplined with your spending. 6, 12, 18, or 24 month no interest offers to pay off an account are a good way to pay off a large purchase and enable you to pay the balance over time without any additional interest and build your credit score. This is good Money Sense.

5. Diversify Your Accounts

3 types of credit are: revolving, installment and open accounts. Their characteristics are as follows: Revolving accounts – The most common example of a revolving account is the credit card. These types of accounts involve different payments each month, depending on how much credit is used. Installment accounts have a fixed payment for a fixed period. An open account is a transaction sale where goods are shipped and delivered before payment is due.

6. Cut Spending

Make a budget, track your spending. Get serious about your needs and wants. When you can see where your money goes you will find ways to save.

7. Limit Your Liability

Use credit cards not debit cards for online purchases. Use ENV chip card technology that secures transactions and protects against counterfeit. Keep your credit card and CVV (card verification value) safe. Avoid entering sensitive information on public computers and Wi-Fi. Set up alerts on your credit cards tied to irregular activity. The faster you report a loss or theft the better.

8. Restrict Hard Inquiries

Checking your score won’t affect your score. Hard inquiries, which can negatively affect your credit score appear when a lender checks your credit when applying for  new credit. Soft inquires appear when a company pulls your credit without your prior authorization, or when you pull your own report.

In conclusion, following the above 8 steps will have you on your way to an 800-credit score which is vital to your financial health and is good Money Sense.