A 2023 nationwide survey said that 73% of Americans don’t have a budget they regularly follow.
Teri Logan, the Care Center Supervisor at InCharge, says that number is a little low.
“Nobody’s using a budget,” she said.
Logan bases her estimate on 20 years working in credit counseling: listening to people struggling to make ends meet. She acknowledges her survey might be a little less scientific but swears it’s just as accurate.
“One of the first questions we ask clients is do they have a budget?” she said, “and none of them do.”
So, Logan and her team of counselors get started with the most underrated, but powerful service InCharge offers creating an affordable budget that clients can live on, and still be able to pay off their debt.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone over a budget with someone and find out that if they just pay their basic bills and the minimum on their credit cards, they’ll have something like $1,000 or $1,500 left at the end every month,” Logan said. “They are amazed. They say ‘Wow! Why wasn’t I doing this before?’”
Logan can sympathize with clients because she has some personal experience on the matter. After enlisting in the Army, she spent six years driving big supply trucks to bases in Alabama and South Carolina.
“You know that old promo “Join the Army and see the world,” Logan said. “Well, I joined the Army to see the South.”
Logan considered it an ideal gig for someone who wanted to earn a paycheck right out of high school. The Army paid for her uniforms, food, and housing, “which meant most of my paycheck – if not the entire thing – should have been deposited in a bank account,” she said.
That’s not what happened.
“People would ask me where all my money was going,” she said, “and I’d tell them I had a day off, went into town and now my money’s gone.”
Her Army days are over, but she has a budget now and knows where her money’s going. She has a suggestion she hopes someone in the military will act on.
“They need to make financial training mandatory when kids sign up for the military and when they leave,” she said. “These kids are coming out of high school and don’t even know how to balance a checkbook. And when they leave the military and have to start paying for their own rent, food, and clothing, they ought to know what a budget is.”
Budgeting is still a challenge for Logan, only now it’s time she has to ration, not money. She moved to a house to be closer to her three sons, and five grandchildren. She works from home and thanks the Army for instilling the discipline to do that successfully.
“I don’t care if you were in there just for basic training or if you’re in there for 20 years, it sticks with you your entire life,” she said. “I’m still early for everything. I still make my bed every day. I’m very organized.
“And the military teaches you a lot about working with people from all walks of life because it’s a melting pot. It teaches you how to adapt and grow and I think it’s just a great place for somebody to start out with some structure.”
And learn to budget!
Tom Jackson focuses on writing about debt solutions for consumers struggling to make ends meet. His background includes time as a columnist for newspapers in Washington D.C., Tampa and Sacramento, Calif., where he reported and commented on everything from city and state budgets to the marketing of local businesses and how the business of professional sports impacts a city. Along the way, he has racked up state and national awards for writing, editing and design. Tom’s blogging on the 2016 election won a pair of top honors from the Florida Press Club. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife of 40 years, college-age son, and Spencer, a yappy Shetland sheepdog.