Getting your family’s financial picture under control can have life-changing effects. It can help to alleviate stress, make daily living more fun, and provide long-term security, too. Taking the steps to get your finances under control can be a confusing process. In this article, we will discuss some tried and true tips that can get you on the right track.

If you are having trouble making ends meet during the winter heating season, then apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). This program will pay some or even all heating expenses to eligible consumers during the winter heating season (generally November – April). All energy companies are required to participate, so find out more by going to your energy company’s website.

Look for ways to cut expenses in your budget. One of big culprits these days are buying coffee from one of the many available shops. Instead, prepare your own coffee at home using one of the flavorful blends or creamers available. This small change can make a big difference in your personal finances.

To really be in control of your personal finances, you must know what your daily and monthly expenses are. Write down a list of all of your bills, including any car payments, rent or mortgage, and even your projected grocery budget. This will tell you how much money you have to spend every month and give you a good place to start when making a household budget.

When you make note of expenses in your check ledger, always round up your numbers to the next dollar. When you make a deposit, round down. In this way, you will build a little padding into your checking account to help you avoid overdrafts. When your “slush fund” has built up enough to help you eliminate monthly fees, continue deducting them anyway. They will be set aside in your checking account and will add to your savings.

If you want to be able to efficiently manage your personal finances one of the things that you need to define is your budget. Not having a defined budget is like driving a car without a steering wheel. A well-defined budget will help you define your priorities in terms of spending.

Whenever possible, pay with cash. Carrying cash is a tangible reminder of how much or little money you have remaining, to meet your upcoming needs and expenses. Unlike debit and credit cards, cash is accepted practically everywhere and is perpetually free of annoying surcharges, fees and confusing fine print.

Put money in a separate account to save for big purchases. When you set your sights on that flat-screen t.v., an expensive pair of shoes or a much-needed purchase such as a new refrigerator, using credit to buy it is always tempting. In the current economy, though, racking up more debt is something to avoid at all costs. Set up a new bank account, preferably one that is harder to get money out of, and have a set amount automatically transferred into it each month.

Your family should have a strong financial picture if you want to be in control of your life. Getting your finances under control has a trickle down effect on every area of your life. As we have discussed in this article, getting started can feel confusing, but it doesn’t have to. If you follow the simple steps discussed here, your financial forecast will improve and your life will, too.