Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 6:09 pm | Fair with Haze 74º


Budget Planning Can Help Reduce Debt Stress

Before developing a plan to get where you want to be, you have to know where you're starting

Debt-Ex Inc. is a Santa Barbara company that has been helping people suffering from financial hardship since January 2008. It offers a free consultation and a complimentary budget analysis, so it can truly understand each client’s unique situation. It then explains all the options available, so the client can make an informed and educated decision.

Debt-Ex has affiliations with other proven professionals, so it can help each client with financial coaching, debt management, debt settlement, bankruptcy and debt consolidation.

About the Economy

» National consumer debt is just more than $2 trillion.

» The nation’s credit card debt is nearly $800 billion.

» The average household has about $16,000 in credit card debt.

» The nation’s unemployment rate is about 10 percent.

» Business and state employees are experiencing layoffs and wage reductions.

» Credit card companies are lowering consumers’ available credit card limits, which has a negative effect on consumers’ credit scores.

» Based on the new lower credit score, credit card companies are raising the consumer’s interest rates.

» Credit card companies can now charge a minimum payment of 4 percent of the current balance.

Debt Stress Health Issues

Debt stress is up 14 percent since 2004, and debt can strain a lot more than just your purse strings. According to a 2008 Associated Press poll of 1,002 people, if you are stressing over high debt, you’re more likely to experience the following medical conditions compared with people who are dealing with manageable debt:

» Three times more likely to have an ulcer or digestive track problems

» Six times more likely to suffer from severe depression

» Twice as likely to have a heart attack

» Seven times as likely to experience a panic attack or suffer from severe anxiety

» Three times as likely to get headaches or migraines

» Twice as likely to suffer from muscle tension, including lower back pain


Whether you take on the task of eliminating your debt by yourself or if you utilize the advice of a debt counselor, the first step will be creating a budget. Before you can develop a plan to get you where you want to be, you have to know where you are starting. Below are some helpful hints on how to develop an accurate budget.

Determine Your Take-Home Pay

In order to create an accurate budget that you will use, you will need to determine your monthly household income. This should be your net income, not your gross. After all, you only want to work with money that you actually receive from your paycheck.

Write Down All of Your Expenses (not totals; just what they are)

Either use a pen and paper or sit down at your computer and make a list of everything you pay for on a monthly basis. The amounts don’t matter yet; just make the list and be honest. If you “forget” to write anything down, your budget won’t work.

Calculate Totals

After you are confident that you have all your expenses written down, begin filling in the blanks with the actual amounts. One rule: Make sure the amounts are completely accurate. Do not guess at this part. Grab your bills from previous months and write down the real totals.


When your budget has been created and the totals have been filled in, review everything you wrote down. Don’t make any changes; just review. Do you find that you are spending more each month than you’re bringing in? Did you have any “uh-oh” moments where you discovered areas that you could cut back on? If you are having any thoughts when reviewing your budget, then you’re making progress.

Make Realistic Changes

If your expenses outweigh your income, where can you cut back? Are you paying too much for cable? Have you gone to the movies one too many times? Remember to change only what you will change. If your rent is $1,567.45 per month, don’t change it to $1,500. Only change things that you and your family will give up and live without for the time being.

Keep It Handy

The final step in using the budget is to keep it handy at all times. Do not leave your house without at least reviewing it. You’ll find that living within your means and sticking to the budget you created will make you feel fantastic. It is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud to have succeeded at following it.

We know that your determination in achieving financial strength will keep you motivated to manage a budget that works for you.

— Farrell Odendhal is a senior debt analyst for Debt-Ex Inc..


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >