Making a budget that works for you and helps you reach your financial goals is a big step. For some people, it meant becoming aware of their financial situation, while for others it was a way of keeping themselves accountable.

why you want to budget is for you to decide, but I’d like to show you how to budget. I’ve included things tips that have helped me and others handle our finances.

4 Steps to Making Your Budget

Building a realistic budget isn’t impossible. The key is basing it on reality instead of basing it on your best case scenario.

Track your expenses

Keep a journal of everything that you spend on during a month. Big or small, include everything. For your budget to succeed, it has to be based on real numbers.

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Car/Transportation Costs
  • Insurance Payments (Health, Car, Life, etc)
  • Debt Payments (Student loans, Credit cards, etc)

If you don’t think you can keep everything written down, then use an online tool like Mint to track it for you.

Consolidate Your Bank Accounts

If you have several bank and retirement accounts lying around, see if you can reduce it to a manageable number. It’ll save you time from trying to remember what money belongs where. For some banks, you can also qualify for better rates if you balances are higher.

Automate Your Payments

Most banks and credit unions offer the money and time saving feature of online bill pay. Spend an hour setting this up with your bills, account numbers, due dates, and amounts, and you’ll only need a few minutes a month to keep it up.

Review and Adjust Occasionally

For most people, you will have to adjust your first budget. When you find an expense that is out of hand, try to reduce rather than completely cut out. Learn to be selective with your battles. Do you have to eat out every day? Can you have leftovers for lunch twice a week? It’s better to start somewhere then plan everything.

Free Budget Spreadsheets

If you’re looking to be inspired or you just want to use templates for your first budget, there are a ton of free budget spreadsheets online. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

There are plenty of more options and you may find building a spreadsheet from scratch is what’s best for you. The idea is that you find what works for you and motivates you to stay on budget.

Thoughts on Creating a Budget

How do you budget your money? If you tried budgeting and it didn’t work out the first time, what was the hardest part of it?