There are a million things you’d probably rather do than make a budget. But it’s a lot easier than you think. It only takes five easy steps to get started.
Do you have a budget? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. According to a US Bank study, only 41% of Americans use a budget to plan and track their spending. But making a budget is easier than you might think, and it can be a great tool that can help you set and work towards your financial goals.
Basically, a budget helps you plan how much money you’ll spend and save each month. It also gives you a snapshot of how much money you actually spend each month, which may surprise you.
You can find easy-to-use (ex. budget worksheet from Kiplinger.com) use an app or online budget calculator to create your budget.
Before you start putting together a budget, write down your short- and long-term financial goals:
List all your regular sources of income, for example:
Your take-home pay usually is the amount you make minus taxes and any deductions like health insurance, union dues, or money you have deposited into flexible savings accounts, pension accounts, and other retirement accounts.
These are the things you have to pay for every month, like:
The amount that’s left is what you have to spend on other things like entertainment, clothing, and savings. You may want to use some of this money to pay down debts like credit card balances or to pay more than the minimum installment on loans to pay them off more quickly and save money on interest payments.
If after you subtract what you spend from what you make the amount is less than zero, you’re spending more than you’re making each month. Consider getting a second, part-time job to improve your financial position. You can also find a few places to save money:
Check up on your budget after a few months to see if your numbers were accurate or if you need to make changes. And remember to look over your budget each year to make sure it still fits your financial situation.
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