Understanding a financial counseling sessionWhen clients meet with a financial counselor at The Village Family Service Center in Fargo, the first thing the counselor gathers is a comprehensive list of fixed, variable and periodic expenses.
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM
When clients meet with a financial counselor at The Village Family Service Center in Fargo, the first thing the counselor gathers is a comprehensive list of fixed, variable and periodic expenses.
Fixed expenses are the same each month, such as the rent or mortgage payment and debt payments. “Usually they’re the first bills you pay when you get paid,” said Joshua Huffman, financial counselor.
Variable expenses are things like groceries, toiletries, utilities and gas for the vehicle. They may vary month-to-month, but are always there.
Periodic expenses, like home maintenance, car repairs, medical expenses, travel and gifts, don’t come up every month but can be budget busters if not planned for.
Each category is tallied. The amount that should be set aside each month for those periodic expenses is calculated, as well as how much a couple is short or has left each month.
From there, the counselor provides a customized financial action plan, usually advising them to track their expenses, and then cut spending and/or increase their income.
“When it comes to dealing with problems with money, there really is no magic wand and no easy answer. Usually it’s a lot of sacrifices and hard decisions in figuring out what changes you can make,” Huffman said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556