March 14th, 2012

Take Control of your Budget with a Free Tool from SMCU

Do you find yourself anxiously awaiting your next paycheck, worried that it may not be enough to cover your bills? Most of us know that we should be spending less than we earn, but putting that plan into action can seem overwhelming.

Picture of a young couple worrying over their billsFortunately, SMCU has some free tools that can help. We’ve partnered with BALANCE, a financial assistance company, to help you figure out how to break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
One of the planning tools BALANCE offers is a budgeting wizard called OnTrack.

OnTrack walks you through a step-by-step process to determine how much money you have coming in each month and how much is going out.

Find Out Where Your Money Comes From

The first step OnTrack takes you through is itemizing how much money you receive each month. You enter the income you get from all sources into the wizard, including regular wages, retirement income and child support payments. OnTrack then consolidates them all into one monthly number, so you know exactly how much you should have to pay your expenses.

Break Down Your Monthly Expenses

Once you know your monthly income, OnTrack helps you detail your monthly expenses, so you know where your money goes. The wizard walks you through separate worksheets that itemize your different spending areas, such as housing, transportation and child care.

Identify Unnecessary Spending

After you have entered your monthly outlays, OnTrack tells you how much money you should have left at the end of each month. If you find that your budget includes more expenses than monthly income, you can go back into the worksheet and look at areas you might be able to cut back on to save money.

Get Helpful Tips and Resources

As you make your way through the wizard, OnTrack gives you helpful hints about things like stretching your gas dollars or setting long-term financial goals. It also helps you understand financial products like Roth IRAs and Transportation Savings Accounts.

Talk to a BALANCE Counselor

When you finish the budgeting wizard you will have the opportunity to schedule an appointment to speak with one of the counselors at BALANCE at no charge to you. They can help you with any budgeting questions you have and a wide range of personal finance issues from managing debt to understanding your credit score.

Creating an effective monthly budget can be a great first step toward reaching your financial goals. Using OnTrack from BALANCE and SMCU makes the process fast and easy.

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Do you have any great budgeting tips? Share them in the comments.

2 Responses

  1. Jane Donald says:

    Just wanted to ask a question about your “On Track” financial program.

    It looks like something helpful, but I am hesitant to use it as it is not clear to me if other people would have access to it. I would prefer to just download it to my own computer as opposed to going through another unknown company’s site. Do you have any info on this?

    Thanks
    Jane

    • SMCU says:

      Jane,
      We’re glad you think the OnTrack tool might be something that could help. We can also appreciate your concern about keeping your private information safe.

      When you use the OnTrack service, you don’t input any of your private financial information, like your social security number or account numbers. You only enter the amounts you pay in expenses each month and amounts you receive in income. In order to access the wizard, you create a private user account, which helps safeguard your answers.

      If you set an appointment with a BALANCE counselor, you can send them your answers from the wizard, so they can help you create a budget plan, but that step is optional.

      If you’d like to read BALANCE’s privacy policy, it is available online at https://www.balancepro.net/privacy.html.