Money ManagementMoney Management"Taking control of your money" sounds more exciting than creating a budget, doesn't it? Having a budget seems limiting and painful, but taking control of your money means giving yourself permission to spend it in a planned manner. You can take control of your money in four basic steps. Assess the "Now": calculating your current financial status is similar to stepping on the scale at the doctor's office. You're not sure you want to see the "real" number. If you've been in control of your finances, "assessing the now" will be validation that you are on the right path. If your money has been in control of you, it might be a wakeup call. It's important to know where you stand financially in relation to where you want to be. Create a simple chart with your assets (what you own) on the left side and your debts (what you owe) on the right side. Subtract your total debt from your total assets to determine your net worth. See Where Your Money Goes: often, we don't really know where all of our money goes - especially if we live comfortably. As we earn more, it's easy to slip into the habit of spending more. Keep track of your expenses for a few months and you may be surprised at the results. Look to the Future: this is the fun part. Take some time to decide what you want in life - not in terms of dollars, but in terms of dreams. Perhaps you want to take a trip abroad, purchase a car or a home, or have a comfortable retirement. Create a Plan: this is where your dreams meet reality. Your journey begins by creating a plan to achieve your dreams. This might include paying off unnecessary debt or saving for a graduation trip. List your monthly expenses by category, such as food, car payment, gasoline, and rent, and specify the maximum amount you will spend in each category. Be sure to include "savings" as a monthly expense item.