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Income Moves - An Opportunity To Reduce Debt

Budgeting is good. Budgeting to reduce debt is even better. But are you running into issues budgeting because your income is not always the same? This is quite a common problem for seasonal and casual workers, as well as small business owners just starting out. When your income changes, sometimes fluctuating upwards or downwards heavily on a month to month basis, you simply must take a look at the big picture. By big picture, of course, we mean the full year. Your occupation ensures that you simply must do this. If you do not, you will fall into a common trap - spending too much during the good months, and having very little (or charging up your credit card debt) in the bad months. This issue is particularly critical, as many of us do not completely pay down out debt when the cash is available. And, sooner or later, the problem becomes huge. A cycle has begun where the minimum payment is the only possible one, and your risk of bankruptcy increases.


Hitting A Moving Target - Budgeting Tips

When your income fluctuates monthly, you have to more disciplined than most other people when it comes to maintaining a budget. First, you must look at expenses on an "annual" basis, as opposed to monthly. These expenses may include monthly bills like groceries and utilities, but also one-time deals such as Christmas gifts and savings. Once you have a total in hand, you must divide it by twelve (which is of course the number of months in a year). This will give you a great idea of how much money you need to survive on a monthly basis.


An additional factor that you have to consider when budgeting (and a factor others may not be concerned about) is your "money surplus". Because of your situation, there will simply be excess cash at the end of some months. Although in reality, this is not excess cash, and it must not be looked at in that manner. Instead, surplus cash should be saved for either the months to come, or to pay down debt. Keep in mind that if you have a particularly slow month, your surplus may keep you in food and heat. And if there is a final note you must make, it is one which is similar to that everyone must consider: lowering expenses. Take out the "wants", determine the "needs" and adjust accordingly.


Working with a budget when you must look at your income on an annual basis is slightly trickier than when you have a monthly basis. But, it can be done. And disciplining yourself to stick with the plan will guarantee you can reduce debt, retire well and obtain the true financial independence we all want.


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