Heading Out on Your Own — Day 16: Create a Budget

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 16, 2012 · 39 comments

in Heading Out On Your Own

In the classic clip above from The Cosby Show, Cliff Huxtable’s son Theo feels ready to live on his own, but his father humorously disabuses him of the notion by taking him through a hypothetical budget.

Without a wise Bill Cosby to burst their bubble before leaving home, a lot of young men come to the realization that budgeting their income is harder and more complicated than they had imagined. After 18 years of having almost all expenses taken care of, figuring out how to live within your means on your own can be downright overwhelming.

I know I can remember a moment during my first month in an apartment by myself when I looked at all the bills I had due, and anxiously thought, “How in the heck am I going to pay for all this stuff?”

What I needed, and what all young men who are living on their own for the first time need, was a budget.

Why Create a Budget

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” –J. Rueben Clark Jr., “The Specter of Debt,” 1938

When you’re young and independent, your income is likely limited. You have to do all you can to stretch every last dollar. One tool that can assist you with that is a well thought out budget. A budget is basically a roadmap of your financial life. It allows you to plan your expenses so that you don’t spend more money than you have coming in.

Without a budget, you may spend money on non-essential things early in the month and at the end of the month when bills come due, find that you don’t have the scratch to cover them. At this point you’re stuck, and may have to start charging things on your credit card to cover your outstanding expenses. Then, because you don’t budget the next month either, you won’t have the money to pay the balance on the card. Interest will start piling up, and you can soon easily find yourself in the enslaving grip of debt.

Creating a budget gives you control over the feeling of chaos you may have about your finances. Staying out of debt always involves difficult choices; you can’t have it all. Creating a budget allows you to make informed, purposeful decisions as to how to allocate your money in the best possible way to reach your goals.

How to Create a Budget by Hand

Creating a budget by hand is pretty simple, but maintaining it can be difficult because of the discipline it requires. As I’ll explain below, I personally recommend the online service Mint for creating and sticking with a budget. But I wanted to put the pen and paper option out there, because 1) some folks like doing things by hand, 2) going through the steps on how to create an offline budget is a good way of learning the basic principles, regardless of format, and 3) even if you don’t plan on doing one by hand indefinitely, you might want to try it a few times in order to reinforce those principles.

1) Assess your monthly income. Gather your pay stubs together and figure out exactly how much you’re bringing in each month. If you’re self-employed or do work on the side, make a close estimate of how much you earn a month. You need to know how much money you have to work with before you start budgeting it out.

2) List your fixed expenses. 
Fixed expenses are those that stay roughly the same each month. They include things like rent, car insurance, car payments, health insurance, phone bill, and student loan payments.

3) Subtract your total fixed expenses from your total monthly income. The amount that’s left over is what you can work with for your variable expenses. If your fixed expenses are more than your total monthly income, you’re in trouble, as we haven’t even gotten to your variable expenses yet. Cut the cable, downgrade your cell phone plan, get a roommate to reduce rent costs, etc.

4) Set a spending goal for variable expenses. Now that you know how much money you have to work with, you can start budgeting for your variable expenses. These are the expenses that fluctuate from month-to-month. Unlike fixed expenses, you have a degree of control over variable expenses; these are the areas where you can cut back the most and start getting ahead in your finances. This type of spending includes items like groceries, utilities, gasoline, eating out, and entertainment. Set a reasonable spending goal for each variable expense.

Start a Retirement and Emergency Fund

When you’re just starting out in life, you’ll likely be living paycheck to paycheck, and will understandably want to spend the remains of your variable budget on doing fun things with your friends after taking care of the basics like gas and food.

But as soon as you can swing it, make it a top priority to set aside a portion, no matter how small, to a retirement and an emergency fund. Let’s face it, when it comes to retirement we can no longer depend on our jobs or the government to fund it; who knows what the future of entitlements will bring? Set aside a small amount each month when possible and put it into a Roth IRA or 401K.

In addition to saving for retirement, budget some money each month for an emergency fund. This money is to be used when you find yourself unemployed or to pay for car repairs and other unforeseen expenses; having one will give you a great sense of confidence and security. Even if you can only sock away $25 a month in the beginning, it’s better than nothing. Most financial experts agree that you should save enough for three to six months of living expenses. That’s hard to do when you’re a young man, but again, just work on it slowly and do what you can. If you’re looking for a good place to stash your emergency fund, check out ING Direct. It’s an online bank, and they have better interest rates than traditional brick and mortar institutions. It’s what I use.

5) Subtract your total expenses (fixed and variable) from your monthly income. The goal is for your total expense amount to be less than your income. If it’s not, you’ll need to tweak your expenses so that they are. This may mean cutting back or cutting out things like going out to eat or cable television. If you have a surplus, put it into your emergency fund or towards your retirement.

6) Keep track of spending. After you’ve created the budget for the month, keep track of every single penny you spend to ensure that you stay within your budget. Keeping track of your spending will also come in handy when you make next month’s budget. You’ll be able to review how much you spent the previous month and adjust accordingly. This is probably the hardest part of budgeting, and where most people fail. I actually ditched doing my budget by hand a few years ago and switched to using Mint because I was terribly inconsistent with keeping track of my spending.

Track Variable Spending With the Envelope System

One of the best old-school methods of keeping track of your variable expenses is the Envelope System.  It requires you to use cash for many of your expenses, which can be inconvenient at times, especially as more of our shopping moves online. But if it helps you to control your spending, then the inconvenience is worth it. Kate and I used the Envelope System when we were first married. Here’s how it works:

Withdraw enough cash to cover your variable expenses like groceries and entertainment. Get some regular ol’ mailing envelopes and label them “Groceries” or “Entertainment” or “Gas.” Put the amount of money you’ve budgeted for each of those categories into its respective envelope. You can only use the money in the envelope when making purchases for that category. When the money runs out, you’re done spending in that category for the month.

7) Review your budget every month. Each month, go over last month’s budget to see how you did. You’ll be able to see where you did well and where you can improve. After you review, repeat the whole process and make next month’s budget.

My Recommendation: Automate Your Budget With Mint

As I mentioned above, I stopped budgeting by hand a few years ago and started using Mint to track my budget. In my opinion, it’s the only way to go. Mint’s free online service takes all the hassle out of one of the most important steps in budgeting: tracking your spending. When you sign up for Mint, you’ll be asked to connect all your financial accounts (checking, credit cards, loans, etc.) into their system. Don’t worry. Mint uses the same 128-bit encryption and physical security that banks use. Their practices are monitored and verified by TRUSTe, VeriSign, and Hackersafe, and are supported by RSA Security. And besides, Mint is a “read only” platform. So if someone does hack into your account, they wouldn’t be able to move money.

Track spending automatically. Once you have your financial accounts connected to Mint, just use your debit card as you normally would. Mint automatically tracks and categorizes your spending for you. So for example, if you pick up groceries at the supermarket, Mint will automatically categorize the purchase as “Groceries.” It’s almost magical how good Mint is at categorizing things automatically.

The system is flexible, so if you don’t like the way it categorizes your spending, you can change it, and Mint will start organizing those transactions the way you prefer. There are times when the system gets things wrong or doesn’t know how to categorize a transaction, but correcting it isn’t difficult. Once the correction is made, Mint gets right back on track.

Tweak Mint’s suggested budget. After a few weeks of tracking your income and spending, Mint will create charts and graphs that are easy to understand and show you exactly where your money is going. Using this information, Mint will create a suggested budget for you that you can then tweak to meet your financial goals. What’s great about this tool is that as you adjust your budget, Mint will show you charts on how those changes will affect the amount of money you’ll have left over at the end of the month, in real time.

Let Mint remind you if you’re getting off track. Mint will send warnings to your email or cell phone when it notices that your current spending habits have put you on a trajectory that will overshoot your allocated budget. They’ll also send you alerts when certain bills are due.

Review and adjust as needed. I log into Mint every week to see how things are going with my spending and budgeting. Mint’s easy-to-read charts make reviewing a breeze. If I need to clamp down on my budget, I make the adjustment and Mint takes care of the rest.

The 50/30/20 Budget Rule of Thumb

As you sit down and put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to figure out your budget, you may find yourself getting overwhelmed by the minutia of it all or you may be left wondering if your budget is actually realistic. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a benchmark or rule of thumb to compare your budget to see if you’re on the right track.

One rule of thumb that I’ve found helpful when creating my budget was coined by Harvard bankruptcy law professor (and now Senate candidate) Elizabeth Warren. It’s called the 50/30/20 Budget Plan and calls for the following:

  • Limit 50% of your after tax income to needs like rent, utilities, food, health insurance, and car insurance. You need to be really strict about what you classify as a need. A cell phone plan with unlimited data and texting isn’t a need; cable isn’t a need; grass-fed buffalo steaks or SuperSonic burgers, while food, aren’t needs either.
  • Limit 30% percent of your after tax income to wants. Clothes, eating out, cell phone plans, movies, subscriptions to magazines, apps, etc.
  • Spend at least 20% of income on savings or paying down debt. If you have student loans or credit card debt, work on paying that down with at least 20% of your monthly income. Once you pay down your debt, shift to putting that money to retirement savings.

Again, this is just a rule of thumb to offer some guidance. You can adjust it if you want to be more aggressive with your debt repayment or savings. But if your spending roughly matches the 50/30/20 breakdown, you can be confident that you’re on the right track financially.

Budgeting for Something Special

In addition to the different kinds of fixed and variable expenses mentioned above, sometimes you want to budget for something special. Maybe you want to save up for a backpacking trip in Europe, a Saddleback briefcase, or an engagement ring for your girlfriend.


The awesome 1950s instructional film above reiterates some of the principles we’ve discussed, plus adds some other important principles of sticking to a budget — like fixing something to make it last longer, and buying quality instead of what’s cheapest (we’ll discuss this more in a forthcoming post). It also offers a nifty idea on how to save for something special and keep track of how long it will take you to reach a goal: keeping a graph in a little pocket notebook:

This is the kind of thing that’s easy and fun to keep track of by hand. But Mint also allows you to track your savings for a special goal. First, you’ll need to create a savings account that’s just for your special savings goal. ING Direct allows you to easily create free sub-accounts for these types of goals. Once you create your special savings account, create a goal in Mint, and connect that goal to your special savings account. Mint will ask you how much money you want to save and when you need the money by. It will then spit out how much you need to save each month in order to reach it. As you save for your goal, Mint will let you know if you’re on track to meeting it by your deadline. Pretty nifty indeed!

Have any other tips for a first time budgeter? Share them with us in the comments!

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Garrett August 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I want to add that I love Mint. It is amazing to me how much I was spending when I didn’t have a budget. The only thing more amazing is how much more money I had when I started budgeting and was able to know where my money was going. As the saying goes: Make your money work for you, not you for your money.

2 Debbie August 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I would add to automate as much as possible. Either have your paycheck auto split each month into different accounts for spending, savings, retirement, education, etc. Or you can use you online banking to do an auto split every time you get paid. This way you don’t have to rely on will power or the “i’ll save after the bills are paid” to meet your goals. Once the money is moved it’s out of sight out of mind and you are less likely to spend it on unnecessary things.
Also never let your bank do overdrafts for you. You can tell them ti not allow it. Otherwise overdraft charges are a killer.
Love MINT! And great post. Keep ‘em coming

3 Mike F. August 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I’m loving this series! I’m 28 years old, married for 5 years, and have lived “on my own” for about 10 years; I’m still picking up new things, or new ways of doing old things. I just wanted to offer up the idea of another software solution beside Mint. Take a look a You Need A Budget (.com). It has absolutely helped my wife and I get our financial life under control. Do your own research, and see if it could better fit your needs.

4 Julie August 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I’m a bit contrarian here. While I definitely believe in living well within your means, I find most budgets too constrictive. What I personally do is figure out how much money I have left after removing fixed expenses and a set amount of savings from my income (#1-3 above), and then divide the result by 30. That’s the amount of money I can spend every day. My goal is to be below that, so that I can purchase things that are more expensive if I want them. When I was near the end of high school, this amount was $8 a day. Now, it’s obviously more than that, but the principle holds. I find that just having a set amount, and making sure that I am, on the whole, below that amount, means that I don’t have to juggle with categories, like: “Can I take some money out of my clothing budget to go to the movies if I don’t buy any clothes this month?”

5 Julie August 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I should clarify that in my post above, I divide by thirty after figuring out the monthly amount I have to spend, in order to come up with a daily amount. It’s not that I’m spending 1/30th of my net income.

6 Jason August 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I love this article. I’m a lawyer and help people with financial planning. I have this conversation almost daily (sometimes the Cosby Show version). It can really make things a little clearer when you see how much waste there is that can be cut out and saved instead.

7 Jimbo August 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Outstanding advice.

Especially important is the section on building up an emergency fund. It’s bad enough going through a health crisis… but there is some peace of mind in knowing that the money for those medical expenses is already saved.

8 David August 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Mint is a great service, but unfortunately, it’s only available in the United States & Canada. I’ve tried a few other options, but found You Need A Budget (YNAB) to be the best out of what’s available. Unlike Mint, it isn’t free and does not automatically track your spending, but it’s very easy to use and has a great method behind it. It costs $60 to buy, and there’s a 34-day trial available.

Regardless of whether you buy the software, you should definitely read about the method, as it contains some invaluable advice. The most useful for me have been #1 (Give every Dollar a job) and #4 (Live on last month’s income).

By assigning every Dollar to a budget category, there is less temptation to overspend because you know the money will have to come from another category. I used to have a bad habit of looking at my bank balance and thinking I had more money than I really did. $3000 looks like a lot of money when you forget that it’s barely enough to cover a semester of University.

By living on last month’s income, I am setting aside this month’s income to be spend next month. This means I’ll already have enough money on hand for any groceries and bills, instead of having to wait for my next paycheck.

9 Paul August 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Honestly, I cannot recommend You Need a Budget strongly enough. Their system and philosophy actually gets me EXCITED about budgeting. I have been using it for a couple of months, and it is the first time I have stuck with a budget for more than a couple of weeks. I do not work for them and have absolutely zero financial interest in them, but the software (and the accompanying iPhone app) has changed my life. Get it and try it for a week.

10 Scott August 17, 2012 at 1:33 am

I love this article. Thanks for the practical and detailed advice. Definitely wisdom that I needed to hear.

Little trivia factoid for those who don’t know: J Rueben Clark Jr was a religious leader when he made that statement.

11 Joey Espinosa August 17, 2012 at 6:52 am

Love this video clip! For one reason or another, I think of it probably every month.

I started using a written budget while I was in college & grad school. I still use the same basic excel spreadsheet.

12 Ara Bedrossian August 17, 2012 at 7:44 am

“A cell phone plan with unlimited data and texting isn’t a need; cable isn’t a need”
Spot on.
Although I don’t support contributing to a 401k that is run by Wall St banks. Their carelessness caused the market to crash, and their deceit in pushing toxic assets before the crash is immoral. And the same execs who oversaw this are still there. I choose not to support them while they are too-big-to-fail, or rather, too-big-to-control.
Otherwise, I like your plan.

13 Mark August 17, 2012 at 7:47 am

I have a question. Generally speaking, I work 5-10 hours of overtime. Would it be better for me to budget using my entire paycheck, OT included or budget with just the 40 hours and use the OT pay for savings, 401k, emergency fund, etc? Thanks!!

14 Geoff August 17, 2012 at 7:57 am

Good job on this post, and the blog in general! Lots of good advice. I’m going to go tweak my budget now.

15 Tevin August 17, 2012 at 9:26 am

Very interesting, and helpful article. I have been trying to make a budget for my mother, for she is terrible with fiances, and this article has helped allot! Also Mint is a great piece of software!

16 Martin August 17, 2012 at 9:38 am

I want to add my voice to the YNAB crowd. I tried all the other stuff and found that automating, for me, is in fact counterproductive because it lulls me into thinking everything is taken care of, and while more things that needed to get paid did, I *always* found surprizes of the unpleasant kind whenever I automated things.

YNAB is great for exactly the reason that it DOESN’T automate (well, you can get it to import bank stuff, but neither I nor the makers recommend that). In this way, you become hyper aware of everything your money is doing, and where it should be going. You are forced to keep an eye out, and consequently know where your money goes and what it’s doing all the time.

And what an eye opener. I not only learned how disturbing my spending was, I learned how the banks were nickle-and-dime-ing hundreds of dollars away from me annually for a lot of this automation.

Mindfulness is an often overlooked and lesser lauded but incredibly powerful tool in living the life you want. Automation makes you unaware.

If you want a modern way to budget like your grandfather did, then go with YNAB.

Seriously.

And no, I’m in no way affiliated. ;)

17 Jordan August 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

my problem with making a budget was that I was an hourly retail employee…which I imagine a lot of people are these days. Not unemployed, but underemployed. The problem arrising in that what I work from week to week varied on how many hours my job would let me have. As a result I wouldn’t have a concrete number as to how much I bring in every month, holiday months I work a lot, but spring and summer not so much. Talk about having to plan on doing without in order to make a budget for myself.

18 Ed August 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

You’re posts are the best. Thank you for sharing. These 31 days articles are helping me on my path to an young adult. Thanks again.

19 Jeff August 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

Hi Brett,

Where do you suggest one put their tithe/charity? I realize this varies between individuals and their religion–my climbing buddy roommate is a practicing Christian and put his tithe in before taxes then lived off the rest. Curious what others do and suggest?

Jeff

20 Kevin August 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

Great post on an ever pertinent topic.
Often we fail to plan for repairs or replacements and consider them to be emergencies. However, you can bet that eventually something will break or a light bulb will need to be replaced. Even though the cost may be a few dollars, those dollars add up.
I use a modified version of the free Excel spreadsheet from “within your means”. It’s very detailed to be prepared to spend some time on it, but when you’re done you’ll know where every cent of your money is going.

21 Joi August 17, 2012 at 11:56 am

Fantastic article. I got this and was immediately reminded that I needed to some maintenance on my existing Mint account.
You inspired me to revisit my budget and goals and make some calls to my investment accounts to check in and move things along. Perfect way to kick off the weekend, thank you!

22 Scott M August 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Mark,
If you work 5 hours OT every single week, include that in your budget. Otherwise create a budget based on the 40 hour work week and then make a separate list of how you want to spend any extra income that comes in. I like Dave Ramsey’s method to money management and there are quite a few resources on his website http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/

23 chuck August 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I tried Mint for a while. I generally feel that it is JUNK!

24 Jim August 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’m actually glad you DIDN’T mention the Need a Budget thing. You shouldn’t have to spend money in order to budget your money. Dave Ramsey has done a lot of good for folks, but he’s also a bit of a huckster. I mean he sells $20 “Designer Envelope System.” http://www.daveramsey.com/store/budgeting-tools/designer-envelope-system-blue-brown-/prod265.html
I mean, give me a break.

25 JT August 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm

An excellent article. I use a multiple methods when I am working (still trying to find that first post college job). The main one I use is an excel spreadsheet because I can build models of budgets and compare to actual cash flow. One thing I would add with budgeting is try to pay a little extra towards your debts. I worked out if once I have a job I can round my loan payments up to the nearest hundred dollars I can cut 2 years off my student loans. Additionally in cash budgets like a gas fund I put an upper limit on how much cash can be in there at the beginning of next pay period. When it hits that maximum I take the money and put 1/3 towards saving or paying debts, 1/3 towards something i want to buy in the long-term (for example gas fund might pay towards a new car) and the final 1/3 is evenly divided among other budget items.

26 Vincent August 18, 2012 at 9:05 am

A very useful article. Although I’m not using budgets yet, I write down my monthly income and fixed and variable costs. I’m going to use some of the tips here to improve my future income / cost plans and get more stable financially.

The heading out on your own series has proven me very useful. I’m moving out in a week and I’m looking forward to the last 14 posts. Thanks a lot!

27 Matthew August 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

Wow this is great advice. The 50/30/20 rule might work for me. Every payday I usually just sit down, psych myself, and pay all the bills and credit cards in full, then I spend the rest. It doesn’t feel like it’s a good system because I usually have barely anything in my account by next payday. Living paycheck to paycheck stinks, but I just started using the “envelope system” and unlike a debit card, the ability to see your money physically drain away really makes you think hard enough that at least you slow down your spending, which is an improvement for me. I learned for example that setting aside $100 a paycheck for entertainment isn’t enough for two weeks, so I’ll try to increase it to $125 (which is 30% actually). Ironically by giving myself a bigger budget I know I’ll spend less overall because once I dip into the other accounts like necessities it starts to feel like a spending free-for-all and I want to avoid that.

Despite all that, I still feel like the kid in that corny public service announcement video, and I hope practice makes perfect.

28 Gee August 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Great advice, love this post! And in the spirit of imparting learned lesson to future college students, I have a few of my own to add.

I suggest starting a small fund to tide you over during important study periods/research papers due dates. You’re paying higher studies, so you should keep in mind that your first and foremost duty is to gain education and knowledge from this ‘product’ you just paid for.

Adjust budget to include a ‘one week off for study’ saving funds. It’ll take a lot of effort to save up for your first one, but it’ll be worth it. This way, one week every semester is devoted to you polishing up important papers or studying for exam. Each semester, add an extra few ‘off days’ put away.

The magic of this is there would be times when you won’t even need to take off from work because eventually you’ll be better at organizing your time, fitting in studies with work or simply took easy courses throughout the semester. Exercise some willpower so you carry this fund over to your next semester (less work to save up for a new one!) and the next and the next…you get the idea. Exercise the willpower to not dip into this fund, or to always have at least ONE WEEK saved, UNTIL you graduate.

29 Radek August 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

I totally agree on having a budget and sticking to it. I would even add that spending cash is better than using debit cards, since you have a real sense of how much money you have left instead of thinking there is an endless pot of gold inside that plastic card..

I do not however agree with the premise of this post – saving money will allow you to do things you like. It will to some degree, but what about actually making more money? It is more difficult than saving since it requires to take action instead of being passive, but the outcome should be greater.

So
a) find a better paying job
b) find a job that earns the same amount of money, but takes less time to do
c) have a “side hustle” as other posts suggest

Cheers,
Radek

30 Thomas August 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

This is an excellent article and full of very sound advice. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” program and any of his other products.
His radio show is great too!

31 Larry August 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

One should be wary using services like Mint.com.

It’s the legal issues. You are granting third party access to your personal information. Access that might conflict with existing agreements. For example bank websites that stated access for single person only.

I think you’re better off entering numbers into a spreadsheet or existing software solutions like simple accounting.

But hey what do I know, people give away their SIN information like no tomorrow.

32 Andrew September 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Great post, and I have only one objection as follows. My advice is following: do not keep your emergency fund in bank, because IMHO emergency fund should cover even events like bank bankruptcy, or freezing of assets. Of course consequence would be, that your money slowly lose value because of inflation, but emergency fund is not investment, which should generate profit or interest, it is your financial last stand. I know that this article in written in context and mindset of USA, but i think the best possibility is to keep neccessary amount of cash in some safe and hidden place in your house.

33 Ramsay September 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

Question for any knowledgeable folk:

In using online budget software that connect directly to my bank, should I still enter cash-on-hand transactions manually into my budget or will that upset the general system? I’ve been trying it for 6 months now and my numbers aren’t coming out right (not reading true to bank balance, obviously, since the cash never enters my bank account).

Thanks.

34 Sonja November 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I’m a young woman about to live on my own and I think this website has great advice regardless of gender! Thanks for introducing me to MINT!

35 Derek November 8, 2012 at 10:59 am

This is an excellent article!! Thank you! I would recommend an update- Elizabeth Warren is now a Senator-elect.

36 Nick January 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

An alternative to Mint for those in the UK is Money Dashboard. I’ve been using it for a couple of months and has been very useful to automate budgeting. It’s not as polished as Mint, but it gets the job done.

37 Jose January 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I recently posted an article on how to set up a budget. http://thefindependent.com/creating-a-budget-how-to-budget/
My focus on the article was on setting one up by hand (spreadsheet). Automating your budget using Mint is intruiging and I’m definitely going to look into it.

38 Caleb February 20, 2014 at 9:45 am

Creating a budget is one the wisest decisions a person can make. Your future is unknown, but preparing for the unknown is essential. Creating a budget allows you to be prepared for what you can have an affect on as well as what is out of your control. Life can present many financial obstacles along the way, being unprepared can throw everything in a whirlwind and not only affect you, but those who depend on you.

39 Marc March 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Just finished reading,” How to create a budget”. Absolutely love it!!

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