Financial Planning When Times are Tough

July 5, 2022 |
Article | 5 min
| Personal Insights

Practices that reduce your spending and save you money

The steps mentioned below are designed to help you create a financial plan and provide access to helpful resources during these times.

Create a Budget

Making and sticking to a budget is key to handling money and financial planning during tough times. It helps you to get a handle on debt and spending. Until you get a realistic picture of how much money you’re bringing in and where it’s going, it’s difficult to know whether you’ll have enough left over to put away.

Getting started can be the hardest part, especially if your finances feel out of control, but these easy-to-follow steps are designed to help you create a realistic budget that works for you.

Budgeting For Your Wants

If you want to successfully plan and achieve your long-term lifestyle goals, you need to identify and control your inessential expenditures.

Where does my money come from and how much do I have available?

The first place to start is getting a complete picture of where your money comes from. You may be self-employed, work full-time, have multiple jobs, or receive child support or government benefits. These sources should factor into what you have available to make ends meet.
Looking at your financial statements is a good place to start. Start by recording where all your income is from either by writing it down, using a spreadsheet, or an income tracker aid. Our Savvy® Money Management tool through your online banking can also help you to track expenses and budget. Determine how much you truly have available to spend. Determine how much savings you have.

Where does my money go?

Next, you'll want to determine where all your money goes on an average month. Make a list of all your finances by utilizing your financial statements and receipts. The Savvy Money Management tool can help you track these expenses as well. Start by recording where all your expenses are from either by writing it down, using a spreadsheet or an expense tracker aid. You could also start a daily log of your expenses so you’re making sure to capture those small expenses, such as buying breakfast or lunch instead of bringing it with you, that add up over time.

What are my bills and when are they due?

If you’re coming up short at the end of the month, it could be that the timing for your bills and income don’t match. Missing payments or not paying on time can also have larger impacts on your credit scores and overall financial well-being. Write them down or use a spreadsheet to help you remember what your bills are and when they are due. This will help you in reminding you when you need to be careful about spending.
Another option is Bill Pay through your Online Banking. This helpful feature allows you to track and pay all your bills in one convenient location rather than through multiple biller's websites.

What are your priorities?

You need to identify your needs versus wants. Do you have enough money to pay for them? This is when establishing your needs is a priority to decide on which bills are necessary. Shelter and food should be a top priority.

Look for ways to reduce spending.

For the items that you have considered a priority during your financial review, there may be ways to save money on those priorities. Here are a few suggestions to try:

  • Consolidate your debt and lower your interest rates.
  • Take advantage of the consumer relief programs that may be available.
  • Cut back and/or bundle phone and internet services.
  • Reduce electricity use.
  • Reduce your insurance premiums.
  • Cut back on your cell phone services.

For other ways to reduce your expenses, look to other sources such,,, and the American Bankers Association.

Create a working budget and stick to the budget.

Once you have pulled everything together, create a working and realistic budget. Creating a budget will help you to figure out if you have enough money to cover your expenses, while having enough to save or spend on extra you may want yourself or your family.
Changing your money habits won’t happen overnight. Making, and sticking, with a budget takes effort. Develop a support system to help you budget or listen to when you are struggling to stick to it.

Contact Lenders and Understand Relief Options

Contact your lenders to see how they can help as there may be forms of financial relief available. When asking for help, you will most likely need to provide information to lenders detailing your current financial and employment situation. Information such as how much you can afford to pay and ability to restart regular payments, your budget, and your credit information.

Do not be afraid to ask for help or reach out to others with questions. Know that you are not alone in struggling financially. Consumer counseling agencies are available and talk to your local banker to help you find out additional options to consider.

Additional Resources

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

American Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc.