Step One: Compare your income to your expenses.

Many people who find themselves in financial difficulty have expenses that are greater than their income, but fail to realize it as soon as they might because they haven't developed a budget to compare the two. In preparing your Initial Budget, it's acceptable to estimate your monthly net income. Be sure to include any alternative forms of income that you may have, such as disability payments, child support, alimony, or any other money received on a regular basis. Don't include gifts, gambling winnings or any other type of irregular, unreliable sources of income.