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Q: I’m a single mother with a monthly take-home of $6,500 after taxes. Where do I turn for legitimate help when budgeting for my family?
— A. Dae-Harlan, Chicago
A: Our Declaration of Financial Empowerment Principle No. 4: to engage in sound budget, credit, and tax management practices, encourages you to be proactive with the budgeting process. So before you turn to credit counseling services that may charge to teach you about budgeting, try learning on your own.
First, make sure you are maximizing your pre-tax retirement savings through your 401(k) plan at work. Then create a budget for your monthly after-tax income by starting with the basic steps offered under principle No. 4 in our Wealth Building Kit (www.black enterprise.com/WBK.asp).
Personal Mvelopes (www.mvelopes. com) offers a budgeting system that includes a software program and book by Steven B. Smith, Money for Life: Budgeting Success and Financial Fitness in Just 12 Weeks, that will help you keep an eye on cash flow. Also, Quicken software (www.quicken.intuit.com) can help you do everything from track spending to pay your bills online.
Good books on the subject of budgeting include: 7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life: How to Live Well with the Money You Have by Michelle Singletary (Random House; $24.95) and Girl, Get Your Money Straight! A Sister’s Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Funding Your Dreams in 7 Simple Steps by Glinda Bridgforth (Broadway; $12.95).