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Making Your First Budget

Everyone knows the importance of a budget to financial stability, but very few people actually practice this principle. Many of our visitors have to apply for a cash advance repeatedly because they fail to adhere to their plans or they have no plan at all. For these borrowers, we've put together tips for beginners on how to take control of finances.

Learn the Basics

Unless you track and set limits on your spending, you can easily spend your way into serious financial trouble. You might chronically have to apply for an advance, acquire insurmountable credit card debt, or damage your credit. Budgets are not exactly exciting, but they are the only surefire way to keep your finances stable over the long run. Here are the categories that every budget should include:

  • Housing. This is usually the biggest expense for any individual. Excessive housing expenses can force you to sign up for loans more than you should. If this is the case, think about getting a roommate or moving somewhere cheaper.
  • Transportation. If you have a more expensive car than you can afford, you might want to sell it and buy something more affordable with good gas mileage.
  • Food. If you keep your grocery bill down to $150-$200 per month, you should see a marked decline in how often you have to apply. Don't eat out, buy generic, and avoid costly processed foods and frozen dinners.
  • Utilities. Extravagant cell phone plans, excessive heat use in the winter, and landline long-distance charges can run up your utility bill quickly. Try switching to a cheaper plan or carrier, reducing your reliance on heating and cooling systems, and eliminating your landline.
  • Personal. Most people who have to sign up for a loan are way over budget in this category. Fortunately, all spending in this category purchases wants, not needs, so it's easier to make cutbacks. Give up cable TV, cancel your gym membership, and carry less money so you spend less.
  • Savings. This is one category you don't need to reduce in order to avoid having to sign up for a loan. Savings are a cheaper alternative to borrowing, so you don't want to reduce your contribution to them unless you're temporarily trying to pay down credit cards.
  • Debt. Credit card, car loan, and mortgage debt are the most common forms that saddle our visitors. Credit card debt should be your first priority. Make the biggest monthly payments you possibly can until your balances are down to nothing, then focus on the other lower-interest types.

If you have any questions, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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