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This article brought to you courtesy of Matt Stutes, CFP, of Cornerstone Wealth Management, Canby Herald Insider Financial Planning Expert.

Matt Stutes, CFP

Every year, households file their federal tax returns. For many, the process involves digging through receipts; gathering statements; and relying on software to take advantage of every tax break available. Why not to make the most of all that effort?

Tax preparation may be the only time of year many households gather all their financial information in one place. That makes it a perfect time to give the household

budget a checkup.

A thorough budget checkup involves six steps.

1. Creating Categories. Start by dividing expenses into categories and subcategories. Some examples: Housing, Food, Clothing, Charity, etc. Don't forget to add in your savings and investments.

2. Following the Money. Go through all the receipts and statements gathered to prepare taxes and get a better understanding of where the money went last year.

3. Projecting Expenses Forward. Knowing how much was spent per category can provide a template for future expenses. The results of this projection will form the basis of a budget for the coming year.

4. Determining Expected Income. Add together all sources of income. Make sure to use net income.

5. Doing the Math. It's time for the moment of truth. Subtract projected expenses from expected income. If expenses exceed income, it may be necessary to consider changes. Prioritize categories and look to reduce those with the lowest importance until the budget is balanced.

6. Sticking to It. If it's not in the budget, don't spend it. If it's an emergency, make adjustments elsewhere.

In taking control of your money, you may find you are able to devote more of it to the pursuit of your financial goals.

Cornerstone Wealth Management

486 NE 2nd Ave.

Canby, OR 97013

503-266-7431

www.thecwmgroup.com

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL

Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member

FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general

information only and are not intended to provide

specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Rebalancing a portfolio may cause investors to incur

tax liabilities and/or transaction costs and does not

assure a profit or protect against a loss.

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