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How to Create a Budget

Here are the basics of money management to help you take inventory of your finances and set goals.

The world is mesmerized by money. A rack full of newspapers and magazines and a truckload of newsletters devote themselves entirely to chronicling the use and abuse of money. Cable TV beams money-related programming day and night. The Internet is jammed with money-minded Web sites. Money is a top-ten topic of family conversation, too.

Considering that the subject occupies so much of our time and attention, isn't it amazing that so many people have barely a clue about how to handle their own money? Amazing maybe, but no mystery: Americans typically manage to navigate 12, 16 or more years of very fine formal education without ever learning how to balance a checkbook, size up a stock or resist a fast-talking salesman of bad financial ideas. So here are the basics of money management, from setting goals to budgeting to figuring out your net worth.

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