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Budgeting is an important step in managing your money – and ultimately having more of it to invest in your long-term goals. Once you put together a budget and develop the habit of sticking to it, you will quickly see that it’s worth the effort as your debts drop and your assets accumulate.

Start with these worksheets to develop a realistic plan

First, to get a better idea of where your money is going, use these two worksheets to track and plan your budget.

My Spending Plan (PDF) (60 minutes) – This worksheet includes everything from your house payment to your summer pool membership.

Monthly Expense Tracking (PDF) (a few minutes a day) – This worksheet helps you track your expenses for a month. Compare your expenses to your budget (the first worksheet) to see where you can make adjustments.

This is a game-changer. Many Americans are saddled with debt, and while climbing out is tough, it’s not impossible. Paying off large debts takes an aggressive plan, but it’ll put you much farther ahead on the path to financial well-being. For example:

Say you have a $1,000 credit card balance with an 18% interest rate. If you make only the minimum required payment each month − often 2% of the outstanding balance – it will take more than 19 years to pay off and will cost $1,931 in interest. That’s right – your $1,000 splurge actually cost you almost $3,000.

Credit is easy to use and misuse. And the misuse of credit can really cost you. Getting out of debt – and staying out – requires commitment and sacrifice, but your eventual freedom from financial burden and worry is entirely worth the effort. You’ll thank yourself later for a more comfortable retirement.

To learn more about budgeting and other important steps towards financial security, talk to a Nationwide financial professional in your area today.

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