taking stock

Looking to take control of your finances? The first step is taking stock of your current financial situation. Gathering info about what you have and what you owe is essential for making the right decisions about your money.


Once you have a handle on what you have, as well as the money coming in and going out, you are well on your way to creating a budget! 

taking stock of what you have

financial assets

Primarily your cash and investments.  Take a look at your account balances and write down the amounts you have in each account.  Investments include stocks, mutual funds, bonds, Certificates of Deposit, money market accounts, and various other investment vehicles.  Real estate can be included as a financial asset only if it is an investment property.  New to investing? Check out this intro to investing.

non-financial assets

Primarily physical property used by you, including your house and car.  Identify the full value of your non-financial assets excluding any loans you took to buy them (we’ll discuss loans below). Despite your fabulous fashion sense, we recommend not considering clothing and small material items as assets for budgeting purposes.    

taking stock of what you owe

debt for non-financial assets

Remember those houses and cars you identified above?  Now identify the amount you owe on any loans you got to buy your house, or even those home equity lines of credit. 

other debt

Amounts you owe that are not tied to an asset, including credit cards, student loans, and any other debt not listed above.

your money situation

Money coming in

Salary: The amount your employer pays you for going to work (never enough, right?!)


Other employer compensation: Other amounts paid by your employer, possibly a bonus or the cash value of stock you can sell.  Trevi Tip: when receiving stock as compensation, be sure to understand the vesting schedule.  Vesting is the term used to describe when you actually own the stock and can sell it, which is often at a later date than you receive it.


Income on financial assets: remember those stocks and other financial assets you listed above?  Now identify any cash you receive by having those investments.


Other income: Any other sources of cash. This could include income from your own business or side hustle.  Check back for the pros and cons of having a side hustle!

money going out

Housing costs: This includes your rent, mortgage, property taxes, HOA dues, maintenance, and any other expense you have directly associated with the physical place you live.


Utilities: The amounts you pay to use services in your home, including water/sewer, garbage, electricity, gas, cable, internet, phone (landline and cell phone - let’s be honest, your cell phone service is essentially a utility), and any other basic services.


Other basic needs: groceries, personal care, clothing, transportation and anything else you need to get by each day. Shopping sprees for the latest fashion should be not considered a basic need, even though you just have to buy those designer jeans!  We’ll include that as discretionary spending below.


Discretionary (aka optional) expenses: amounts paid for wants, not needs.  This includes those designer jeans, eating out at restaurants, the latest technology, luxury vacations, and any other nonessential expense.

Once you have a handle on what you have, as well as the money coming in and going out, you are well on your way to creating a budget!