Budgeting

Build Your Budget

Think of your budget as a means of setting and reaching your goals.

Think of your budget as a planning device, a means of setting and reaching your goals. You project future expenditures (including savings), record them when they're made, and see whether your projections were any good. If they aren't, you adjust your planning or your spending, whichever is out of line.

Use the household budget worksheet to enter a month's expenditures; we do the addition and subtraction for you. You can even work a couple of months ahead at first, until you get the hang of it. Then you can budget further ahead. After a while you'll want to apply the same principles to long-term goal setting by forecasting the growth of your net worth and all the little pieces that compose it.

Fixed spending

Some of your projections will be easy: You know what your mortgage or rent payments will be in the months ahead. Same for car payments and the premiums coming due on insurance policies. So why budget for them? Because by recording these and other fixed expenditures as monthly outgo, you can see at a glance how much of your income is committed to current or future expenses. That should stop you from spending it on something else.

Variable spending

Here you'll keep track of the items over which you have some degree of control. This section is the place to test your cost-cutting skills. Watch for patterns that may signal trouble. If the "miscellaneous" line keeps growing bigger, for instance, your recordkeeping may be careless.

Most Popular

Tax Wrinkles for Work-at-Home Employees During COVID-19
taxes

Tax Wrinkles for Work-at-Home Employees During COVID-19

Are your home office expenses deductible? How does going out of state to work for a while affect your tax picture? There are some interesting wrinkles…
November 9, 2020
Retirement: It All Starts with a Budget
personal finance

Retirement: It All Starts with a Budget

When you’re meeting with your financial planner, do you talk about your budget? If not, you should.
November 10, 2020
Will Joe Biden Raise YOUR Taxes?
taxes

Will Joe Biden Raise YOUR Taxes?

During the campaign, Joe Biden promised that he would raise taxes for some people. Will you be one of them?
November 10, 2020

Recommended

How to Automate Your Savings in 6 Easy Steps
savings

How to Automate Your Savings in 6 Easy Steps

Take advantage of technology to make building your savings and investing it a seamless – and pain-free – process.
November 19, 2020
10 Best Financial Benefits for Military Families
savings

10 Best Financial Benefits for Military Families

Service members face a range of threats – from the lethal to the financial. A wide array of generous benefits and programs are meant to offset some of…
November 6, 2020
Americans Are Stockpiling Cash
Coronavirus and Your Money

Americans Are Stockpiling Cash

With no place to go and businesses closed, we are saving more than ever.
September 30, 2020
How to Navigate Emergency Funds in Urgent Times
savings

How to Navigate Emergency Funds in Urgent Times

COVID-19 has revealed cracks in many people’s financial plans, and emergency funds have never been more important.
July 12, 2020