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The phrase "in the black" is often used to refer to personal or corporate finances that are in a positive state. Essentially, it means that the individual, corporation, or non-profit organization currently has more assets than liabilities. A number of factors go into determining if the current financial status is in the black, or if circumstances dictate actions that will help to lead to that condition.
In many instances, people or companies always want to be in the black. When a business has more debt than money to pay it, it is said to be "in the red." This dates back to the old accounting process of recording credits in black ink, while debits were recorded in red ink. At the end of the day, the balance sheet was expected to show a final tally that was written in black ink, indicating a profit or at least a state of breaking even.
When there is a steady source of revenue or income and the entity is not in debt, it's often relatively easy to reach "the black" and stay there. Unfortunately, just about every home and business budget carries some degree of debt, although there are ways to control the situation. Making a profit, growing additional revenue sources, and keeping the level of indebtedness within reasonable limits are all basic tools in helping to keep the budget from going into the red.
For people and businesses that find themselves struggling to operate in the black, immediate actions must be taken in order to reverse the situation and restore profitability. This will often involve cutting expenses, which helps to free up funds that can be applied to existing debt, as well as limiting the creation of new debt. Often, the measures required call for sacrifices, but these are often temporary and once the budget is balanced once again, it is possible to loosen restrictions on spending slightly. Care should be taken to avoid future financial periods where revenue does not exceed expenses, or staying out of debt will often prove difficult.