The Basic Steps for Building a Budget

By William Blake

A great way to start living a frugal life is to plan for it.

Planning a frugal life requires planning and controlling your personal finances. And when it comes to finances, the most important plan is a budget. No matter what your income, you can set up a budget. No matter how you get paid, or even what your current financial situation, it is possible to set up a budget. Developing a budget is the first (and most crucial step) to becoming frugal. Here are some great tips on how to do it:

1. Keep track of your spending. You need to know what your current spending habits are before you can adjust them by means of a budget. Bring a small notepad with you wherever you go and note how much you spend every time you make a purchase. That way you can track your spending.

2. List out your expenses. This will include monthly bills as well as the money spent that has been written down in your notepad. Organize the purchases you have made into categories and then total them up to see how much you have spent.

3. Write down how much money you make-- and how often you receive it, whether that be on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Then total up how much you earn.

4. Create your budget. Based on the information that you have amassed during the previous month, create a budget. Once it is all written out, examine the figures and compare your total expenses to your total income. Then, make any adjustments necessary so that your income is more than your expenses are, either by cutting spending or making more money.

5. Study your budget. By study your budget, we mean take a few days to really think about the items you have listed there. Reconsider all of your spending habits and expenses. Make better choices. If you only watch your television once a week then cancel your cable. Save that money for something else. If you have so many clothes that you can't open your closet then pass on doing any more clothes shopping for awhile. Consider your future needs, instead of your present desires. Decide to choose a comfortable future instead of a fleeting present.

6. If necessary, cut until it hurts. After you have cut all that you can cut, review your budget balances. If your expenses still exceed your income, then it's time to consider a second job (or a job change). The only way to balance a budget (and start saving money) is to bring in more than you spend.

7. Review your budget. Since our lives are in a constant state of flux, your budget will no doubt need to be adjusted from time to time. As your lifestyle and spending habits get progressively more frugal, you may notice more expenses that can be cut.

If you want to live a frugal life then it is important to understand your spending and learn to get it under control. Setting up a budget is a first step towards that prosperous way of life.

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