How to Stretch Your Money

Outline your spending and saving priorities with a detailed budget.

You’ve launched your career, and the paychecks are rolling in. If this is the first time you’ve had to manage finances beyond your college meal plan, you may be surprised at how easily the money seems to evaporate. Even if you’ve been working a while, you may find that you’re living paycheck to paycheck, without enough left over to meet your goals. That’s why you need a strategy for how you’ll spend and save it—in other words, a budget.

Rather than view a budget as a straitjacket on your spending, think of it as a way to set priorities. “Is having HBO now more important than being able to retire with the standard of living you’d like?” asks Trent Porter, a certified financial planner and founder of Priority Financial Planning, in Denver.

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.