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What is the best way to develop a personal budget?  

Hi and thanks for writing in. There’s no one best way to develop a personal budget. Everyone is an individual, so each person can find the “best way” to develop their own budget. But, there are some steps that everyone can use to find a personal budget that works for them. 

  • Keep track of all your expenses. Try tracking your expenses for at least a week or two, or a month if you can. This way you’ll know how you really spend your money. 
  • Put your expenses into three different categories:

o        Fixed Expenses—those that you pay the same amount every week or month—things like rent, car payments, savings, or maybe your cell phone. Be sure to Pay Yourself First and put some money into savings every month.

o        Flexible Expenses—those that change every week or month—such as gasoline, food expenses, entertainment

o        Periodic Expenses—those that only occur once in awhile—something like car insurance that is paid every six months.

  • Use your spending and expenses to estimate how much money you need each week or month to pay your bills. Do a reality check—do you have enough income to cover your expenses? If yes, congratulations! 
  • If you don’t have enough income, look for ways to spend less money. Identify what you could spend less money on—gas, food, entertainment, clothing, cell phones, etc.
  • Adjust your expenses to match your income. 
Now that you have a budget, give it a try for a few weeks or a couple of months. Most people don’t make the perfect budget on their first try, so make changes if you find the budget isn’t working for you. Reviewing your budget every few months will help you keep a plan that can work for you.

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