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Take small steps toward solving money problems

Many people think there is a top secret solution to solving their money problems.

Some think that if they could just discover this secret, it would put them on the road to riches. Ironically, people often spend money searching for this secret, either by buying books that promise riches or signing up with scam companies that say they can settle your debts for less than what is owed.

If you are struggling with money problems, there really is no one solution. There is no magic wand that can make those problems disappear. The answer to most money problems is more basic than you might think, and there are steps that everyone can take to get back on the right track.

1. Create a comprehensive budget: Write down all of your expenses and compare the total to your monthly take-home pay. This is the first step in identifying what options might be best to solve your money problems.

2. Track expenses: Keep track of your expenses by writing down every single dollar that you spend. Categorize the expenses, and at the end of the month review the budget you first created using the newly tracked figures to identify how accurate it really was. If you have never tracked your expenses before, you may find yourself shocked at where your money was really being spent. Knowing where your money is going is one of the most important parts of managing your expenses. It's only when you know where the money is going that you can truly begin to make changes and plan for future goals.

3. Prioritize expenses: If you are running short of funds every month and don't have enough money to pay all your bills, you have to make some tough decisions on what will get paid and what won't. Be sure to make a list of priorities. Housing, transportation, food and utilities should be on the top of your list.

4. Decrease expenses: Again, fixing a broken-down budget depends on a few basics. If you don't have enough money to cover all of your expenses, this is a necessary step. Review your monthly expenses and see where things can be trimmed or cut.

To truly cut expenses, you must know where all of your money is going. This is where tracking comes in. By tracking your expenses, you can begin to identify what areas of your budget are unnecessary or excessive. There are many expenses that can be reduced in most of our budgets. You can reduce your cell phone plan, use coupons, cut down on driving, eat out less -- the options are endless.

5. Increase income: It's another very basic concept. If you don't have enough money for all of your expenses, you need to either reduce your expenses or increase your income. A combination of both can work wonders. Look for any and all ways you can increase your income. It can be as drastic as finding a new full-time job with higher pay or as simple as picking up a small part-time job.

6. Get help: If you are struggling to solve money problems on your own, get help! Just make sure you are working with a reputable company that is truly there to help you achieve your goals and not to line their pockets.

These are just a few of the simple steps you can take to fix your financial problems. Remember that there is no magic wand when dealing with money problems. It usually comes down to making some tough decisions, making some sacrifices and, most importantly, disciplining yourself to follow through on your plans.