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How to Make a Budget

Budgeting is often a foreign concept to students and young people moving out on their own for the first time. It can even be a difficult feat for adults who have simply never kept track of their money and bills.

Making a budget is a wise decision for many reasons. It could be that you have a heavy debt load and need to take stock of your expenses to see what can be cut back on. Remember, the faster debts are paid back, the less you will be paying in interest costs, and the more disposable income you'll have.

Sit down and make a list of all your debts for the month, and when they are due. Then figure out your "guaranteed" monthly income, not counting any overtime or extra hours at work. It's nice to have that extra, but it's not something to be counted on for budgeting. Also, months where there are five paydays, are not just "freebies". Those weeks will help balance out future holes in your budget where perhaps you needed two sick days, and were not paid for them.

Allot a certain amount of money each week, to cover your regular expenses, including mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, and food. If you have the room for it, try to put 10% aside in an account that you should not touch except in extreme emergency. This is your cushion for unexpected medical or maintenance bills. It can even be the start of a down payment on a house, or a college fund for the children.

Make a schedule of when you will pay each bill and make sure you stick to it. Paying bills late incurs an extra charge and interest, and while it's a small amount for any one bill, when added together over a year, you could be losing money for want of getting a check mailed on time.