How to Make a Budget

Making a budget and sticking to it isn't an easy task, but it can help you control your spending, get out of debt, save up for a vacation, or meet some other financial goal. Making a budget is just like any other hard task--it pays off once you do it.

To get started on a budget, it's best to have some historical account of what you've spent your money on (ie: a record of what you've spent money on for the past month or two). In today's electronic world, this isn't very hard. Get online and print off your bank statements, credit card statements, etc. You can also wait until you are sent your balances in the mail. This is only a problem if you use a lot of cash. If you do you'll need to keep receipts and keep track of everything you spend money on. Remember that the little things count--sodas, lunches, movies, etc.--don't leave anything out, you may be surprised how much it adds up to.

In addition to knowing what you spend your money on, you also need to know how much you make. If you get a salary, then this is easy. It might be a bit harder if you work as a waiter/waitress and get tips or if you have an erratic hourly schedule.

Once you have your account balances, receipt information, etc., you need to organize all of your income and expenditures into categories. I've created a budgeting spreadsheet you can download or a page you can look at and print off:

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