As you begin the new year, you may be resolving to spend more time with family and friends; live a more healthful life through better diet and exercise; or become more financially stable through better money management.  These all require making different choices, ones of which you are probably in control.  However, the behavior exhibited by abusers leaves these resolutions out of the reach for many survivors of domestic violence – isolating them from friends and family, controlling where they go, and denying access to the family’s finances.  A survivor who has been denied opportunities to understand budgeting, saving or financial planning can find these tasks incredibly intimidating and a barrier as they try to achieve safety.  Creating an effective budget is an important strategy when assisting a survivor of domestic violence seeking economic independence.  Budgeting alone cannot solve someone’s financial situation, but it can become an effective tool that works with a person and their goals.  Many survivors have not had control over their finances in many years or may have had bad experiences with budgets in the past.  They may feel budgets do not work for them or have experienced shame or despair when trying to make ends meet. Too often, people are told that if they would just budget their finances better they would be able to meet their expenses, but sometimes there are simply not enough resources to meet the needs.   One way a survivor can start on a path for more economic self sufficiency is through developing a reverse budget.  With Reverse Budgeting, one begins first thinking about their living expenses – what they need to survive – rather than their income.  Once they have created a detailed outline of their expenses, they calculate what they will need to earn to meet those expenses. Reverse Budgeting will give the survivor an idea of how much they must earn.  For those who do have employment, it will help them understand if their income will be enough to cover expenses.  Often, the projected expenses are higher than what the survivor earns or will likely earn.  In those cases, there may be ways to reduce expenses or to potentially increase income.  This process can be repeated every few months, as budgets often change from month to month. The goal is to create a realistic budget that can be used as a tool to help a survivor understand their finances and eventually reach their goals. Working with an advocate at a local domestic violence program can ease the challenges of learning to budget in this way.