While the act of creating a budget may not be the first thing you want to do with the little spare time you have, the effects of budgeting — like being able to take that long awaited vacation — are more than worth the little effort it actually takes to organize your spending. Real Simple lists needing a budget fifth in the March issue's feature. To see the magazine's simple and useful tips for building a budget just
- Grab a blank notebook: Write down every penny you spend for a whole month so you know where your money is actually going.
- Take stock: At the month's end, categorize your spending in to basic categories (food, clothing, shelter, savings, etc) and divvy up your expenses.
- Play with the numbers: If there's a concert you want to go to next month, rearrange the numbers so that maybe you spend less on eating out to buy the tickets. Your list of monthly expenses should serve as a guideline for all future spending.
- Sign up for an online money-tracking program, like wesabe or mint: These programs can be linked to your credit card and bank accounts and will categorize your expenses for you. All you have to do is enter any purchases you made with cash.