A budget is like a road map: it shows you where you are, and it helps you figure out where you are going. But how do you make one? You have three choices.
The easiest method is to simply get a blank piece of paper, and a pencil, and make a list of everything you spend money on. Put the paper in your pocket or purse, and every time you spend money, write it down. At the end of the month you will have a complete list of where your money goes. You can then summarize the list into categories (food, gas for the car, etc.) so your spending patterns are easy to understand.
If you have a computer, you can use a simple Excel spreadsheet (just right click on the Excel icon and save the spreadsheet on your desktop). You can then change the budget template to suit your situation by adding or removing income and expense items as needed. Keep track of your expenses each month by adding a new sheet for each month. With practice, you will see where your money is going each month, and you can decide where to cut back to save cash.
If you don’t want the hassle of using a spreadsheet, you can also prepare your budget on-line. No software is required; all you need is an internet connection. The program is called Calendar Budget, and it’s very easy to use. You simply open the program and you will see a calendar. Enter what you spent today in the calendar. The program will then summarize where you spend your money, and help you produce easy to use graphs and charts so you can easily see where your money is goin. You can even get a free, one-month trial of Calendar Budget; after that, there is a very small cost each month.
Whether you use a piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or on-line software, the point about budgeting is simple: just do it!