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Planning a budget: How do you start?

Budgeting can be done using many tools: paper, printable sheet, spreadsheet, or app.

Budgeting: How do you start?

There are many ways to create a budget: from pen and paper, printable sheets, to spreadsheets, and phone apps. Image credit: "Budgeting" by Investment Zen, CC BY 2.0.
Your budget needs to be something that you can look at and refer to frequently. There are multiple ways of building a budget, and you should pick the one you are most comfortable using:
  • Pencil and paper: You can write down your income and expenses on a piece of paper, and subtract your expenses from your income to see how much money you have left. You can also divide your expenses into categories, such as needs, wants, and savings, and decide how much to spend on each one.
  • Printable sheets on the internet: You can find many websites that offer free or cheap budget sheets that you can print and fill out. You can even download one here. These sheets may have different formats and features, such as charts, graphs, or tips, to help you organize your money and track your progress.
  • Spreadsheet: You can use a computer program, such as Excel, Google Sheets, or Numbers, to create a budget spreadsheet. You can enter your income and expenses in different cells, and use formulas and functions to calculate and compare your numbers. You can also customize your spreadsheet with colors, fonts, and styles, and make changes easily.
  • Apps: You can download apps on your phone or tablet that can help you create and manage your budget. Apps like Empower, YNAB, or Mobills can connect to your bank account, credit card, or other financial accounts, and automatically update your income and expenses. Some apps can also give you alerts, reminders, or suggestions, to help you stay on track and reach your goals.

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