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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on May 23, 2012.


I am 37 and I have never been able to save money. I have a hard time paying my bills on time and I am living paycheck to paycheck. I am a single parent and I need help with budgeting. I have good intentions when I get paid but somewhere I get lost as I''m trying to pay my bills. Help please!


The first thing you should do if you aren''t already, is to participate in any 401K plan that your employer offers.  This money will come out of your paycheck and be saved before you even see it.  In addition, your taxes will be lower, so you won't feel the total impact of the amount you are putting away.

You need a plan, and then you need the discipline to stick to it. First, find out where you have been spending your money and determine what is an absolute necessity and can't be changed, what is necessary but can be reduced, and what is discretionary.

After you deduct your necessary fixed expenses (e.g., rent) from your take-home pay, you will see what you have left for your other necessary expenses and your discretionary expenses.  Set up an amount to spend on your other categories.  Try to set something aside for emergencies.  Once you have this information, the key is to follow through.

You may also have to enlist your children in this process to explain to them why they may not be able to have everything they want.

For more information on budgeting and saving, see the AICPA website 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy ( and good luck with your plan!

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