Saving more money doesn’t have to be stressful. Here’s how you can build a budget, without the stress.

1. Set your goals

The first step to take when establishing a budget is goal setting. In this first step you will need to take a hard-look at what you want to accomplish from a financial standpoint in the next few months, year and years down the road. The planning you do today will help you accomplish your goals tomorrow.

2. Determine your income and expenses

To create a budget, you need to know your income and your expenses. Calculate your available income. This is the amount of pay you take home, minus overtime. Then, figure all of your expenses, from rent, groceries, recurring bills and payments, shopping expenses, memberships, car payments, credit card bills, student loan payments, etc. All expenses, no matter how big or small should be factored in. Compare your income to your spending habits and you may be in for a surprise.

3. Build your budget

Building a budget today is simple. There are dozens of online tools and apps compatible with your tablet or smartphone that can store and sort your budget information. Mint, for example, provides free budgeting tools that can allow you to budget and set budgeting goals online. Mint calculates your spending habits and automatically suggests budgets that are designed especially for you and your goals. The budgeting resource is not only available on desktop, but via the app store, too.

4. Remember to save

Budgeting also means saving. Saving regularly can give you financial freedoms and is critical when it comes to budgeting. Do you best to save as much as you can each month. Financial experts recommend saving up for an emergency fund, a savings that can cover three to six months of living expenses, just in case something were to happen.

5. Be cautious with credit cards

Budgeting should also extend to your credit cards. Just because you have “room” to charge, doesn’t mean that you should. When budgeting, take a hard look at your credit card’s interest rates. It may be a surprising, unexpected cost.  

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