As a stay at home mom my family has had to cut costs and be very careful financially. But, we think the sacrifice of less material things is worth it to have a parent with our kids full time.

Time for a 6-month checkup for your finances.

1. Budget- How are you doing with sticking to your budget. Is it realistic? If you haven't made a budget yet, now is the time.
2. Debt Reduction Plan- Are you following your debt reduction plan? Do you have less debt now, then you did at the beginning of the year? Quicken has a debt reduction plan built in or you can go to their web site at
3. Savings Plan- How much savings do you have? Have you been saving at least 10%? Are you investing any of your savings?
4. Bills- Is your bill paying system working for you? Are you paying your bills on time most of the time?
5. Retirement- How is your 401K or IRA doing? Do you still need to start a retirement investment plan?
6. Have you started a 529 account for college savings for you kids or grandkids?.

What are your financial plans for the next 6 months? Your money will be spent this year, it is your choice if it will be spent on what you envision or just float away.

If you are spending money and unsure where it is going you might need to start Budgeting.

Are you planning a move or looking for a house? Visit Moving Plans

Getting your finances under control

The first thing you need to do before getting your finances under control is to have a desk or someplace to do paperwork. In a cubbyhole in my desk I have a bill paying basket. It includes the checkbook, stamps, address labels, envelopes and a calculator.

When the mail comes in I check for any bills. I open them up, throwing out the outside envelope. I note on my calendar on which Friday I will pay the bill. Then the bill goes in my wooden letter holder on my wall near my desk. Other people have them in a to pay file folder.

Every month within a couple of days of getting your checking statement, balance the checkbook. I use Quicken to make it easier. Every Friday I enter in the amounts in my checkbook into Quicken, so when I have to balance the checkbook most of the checks are in the computer.

After I pay my bills, I put the other half of the bill into an accordian file under each month. Others separate their bills by utilities, credit cards, etc.

To organize receipts for things we have purchased I have a Receipts hanging file. In it I include manilla folders for computer receipts, electronics, small appliances, large appliances and furniture. That way you have the receipts in case anything breaks and you want to use the warranty. If you are under heavy debt, Quicken has a debt reduction planner on its site. It will help you find out the quickest way to get out of debt for the least amount of money.

One way to stay out of debt for a car is after you have paid off your automobile continue to put the amount of your car loan into savings. That way when you need a new car you can buy one without another car loan.

We are saving up for a house right now and we put at least 10% of our weekly income into a savings account. Also 10% of any surprise money like birthday checks, goes into the savings.

It has been suggested that we need to have in the bank enough money to cover 3-6 months worth of expenses, just in case.

Make sure you have a household inventory sheet. It doesn't seem urgent at the moment to do it (you wouldn't believe how long I procrastinated) but you never know when you may need it. My insurance company gave us a pamphlet with space to put each item in each room along with the date purchased, purchase price, and serial number if applicable. Every January you will want to go through your house again or just mark things down as you buy.

You can get your finances in order this year. Think positive!

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There are only two ways to be rich.
Have much or be content with little.

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