Just because you are on a “tight budget” doesn’t mean that you cannot have a financial plan to reach your goals. Begin with looking at your own spending each day, week or month. Having a tight budget might be because you have high fixed expenses. Or, it might indicate overspending. When was the last time you actually looked at your spending? Sometimes, when our cash flow feels squeezed, we don’t want to take a deeper look at our spending. But, just because it feels tight, doesn’t mean that it has to be.

Prepare a spending plan. With today’s student loan debt, high rent in some areas, and the monthly cable bill, what’s left over to save or spend on the things you enjoy? Consider also the convenience of Amazon, zero percent credit card offers, and that random shopping trip to Target, and we start to see the bills pile up. Before long, it looks like there’s no way out.

Just because you are on a tight budget does not mean that you cannot take control. Knowing where and when you are going to spend money, aka Cash Flow, will have a tremendous impact on how much you are able to spend and possibly save.

A monthly spending plan gives you control over where your money goes.  The predictability of cash flow allows you to see the impact of both large, one-time expenses and small, recurring fees on your finances. Once defined, expenses become easier to evaluate, and, if necessary, avoid. Check out our financial planning tool, RightCapital, to get a peek into your own spending habits. You might be surprised where your money goes.

Remember that financial planning is about more than spending, but cash flow is an essential piece of the puzzle. Reach your goals and live life on your terms by taking a deeper look at your spending. Then build a plan that helps you live the life you want.

Kelly Luethje is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and founder of Willow Planning Group, LLC. She provides financial education and guidance to help you live life on your terms. Kelly can usually be found on a mountain, or by a lake, working virtually with clients across the country.