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Failing to budget? Try the ABCs

By Kemberley Washington ·
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Posted: 3 pm ET

We all need to budget, but the reality is that we simply don't do it. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 32 percent of Americans create a budget.

If you have tried to budget and simply couldn't stay the course, consider using three steps -- A, B and C -- to get back on track.

A -- Automated savings

If you have struggled in the past with savings, set up an auto draft to have the money withdrawn directly from your checking account and deposited into a savings account. Once you have set up the auto draft, saving for a rainy day involves little to no effort on your part.

And there is no need to stop with a savings account. For example, talk to your employer and make sure a portion of each paycheck automatically is earmarked for an employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement plan. Or, go back to your checking account and set it up to make automatic contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA).

B -- Bill management

Determine the total amount of your monthly bills. Then, set up a checking account dedicated strictly to paying your bills.

For instance, if your bills amount to $1,000 each month, consider setting up an account and keeping that amount of money in it. Set up automatic bill pay so your bills are paid on a monthly basis. This will reduce or eliminate any late fees.

C-- Cash for other purposes

By this point, you have determined the amount you need to tithe, save and dedicate to monthly bills. Whatever remains is yours to spend as you wish! You have paid your bills and saved money for the future. Now, go enjoy the remainder of your hard-earned cash.

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and professor at Dillard University in New Orleans. She writes a personal finance blog at Follow her on Twitter @kemwashcpa or like her on Facebook.

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