Creating a Budget
Making the Most Out of Your Money
Budget—it’s one of those words that can seem pretty scary. But, in reality, a budget is a useful tool that will help you save your money and have more money to do the things you enjoy. Still, it can be hard if you’ve never put one together before. So we’ve put together a few tips that will help you get started.
- How much do you make a month? Get out a sheet of paper and add up your earnings each month (the amount of money on each of your paystubs). Don’t forget to include extra money—like the $20 you get for mowing the neighbor’s lawn—add all of that money up and write it down. Let’s say you made $820 last month.
- How much money did you spend last month? Take a look at your bank statements and your receipts from the last month to see how much you spent. Write down each expense one by one. Make sure you specify what each one is, for example, “$16.34 books and $12.45 new work shirt”; then add all of them together. Is it more or less than $820? If you spent less than that, congratulations! If not, that’s okay! There is always room for improvement.
- Where do you spend money? Now that you have your list of expenses, look over it. Some expenses like gas or school supplies are necessary but others may not be. For example you may have noticed that you spent $45 at the movies. Ask yourself: how does that number get so high? Well, if you go to the movies twice a month and the ticket is $12 with an extra $10 for popcorn and a soda, then there’s your answer.
After realizing this, think of a way to cut this expense down. For instance:
- You could choose to buy either a popcorn or a soda—or neither at all.
- And instead of going to the movies at night go to a movie during the day which is usually cheaper, and they play the same movies they play at night.
- Or instead of going to the movies you could choose to watch movies at home.
Learning how to manage your money is an important skill to learn. Remember to prioritize needs like rent and your car, begin saving up for unexpected expenses (like a car repair) and fun activities, and set a goal to stick to your budget. These steps will help you move towards a better, more money-secure future. It can take a few tries to get right. If at first you don’t succeed—try again!