You can’t make a plan for your finances without knowing where you stand. You won’t know how much you can save, borrow, contribute to retirement, save for your kids’ education, or use to pay off your debt, if you have no clue how much you have. There are three key things that let you know where you stand financially.

1. Your Budget

If you don’t have a budget, now’s a good time to create one. A budget lets you easily compare your expenses to your income. At the end of your budget is your net income which tells you how much money you have left over after expenses or how much you’re overspending. A negative net income means you need to cut your expenses or increase your income. A positive net income means you can improve your financial standing by paying off debt or increasing your savings.

2. Your Credit Reports

Your credit reports contain information about many of your financial relationships. Creditors and lenders report your account details to credit bureaus who then put that information together in your credit report. While credit reports are mainly intended for businesses who want to approve your applications, you can check your credit report also, to get a feel for your level of debt.

3. Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a numeric value that summarizes the information in your credit report. If you have a low credit score, that means you have negative information in your credit report. A high credit score indicates positive information in your credit report. (Higher credit scores are better). Your credit score can help you determine where your credit stands – whether you’re doing things right or if you need to change your spending (and paying habits).

Using all three pieces of information, you can put together a pretty good picture of your financial standing. You can use all this informaiton to put together a plan for your money.