How To Get Started With Your First Budget

by Hank Coleman

How to set up your first budgetA lot of people hate the B word. I have to admit it myself that I do not enjoy budgeting. But, budgeting is a great way to make sure that you have enough money to pay the bills each month. It is also a way for you to save for different financial goals you may have in life like retiring early, finishing your bucket list, or sending your children to college.

The hardest part of budgeting may be simply starting. So many people do not know where to start or how to get going.

Starting a budget that makes sense can take a little bit of time at first, but it is well worth the time and effort that you put in. Here are some steps to help you get started with your first budget.

Find That Missing Cash

The most important thing about a budget is truly being honest with yourself about your income and spending habits. This can be hard especially if you use a lot of cash to make purchases.

Don't Miss a Single Blog Post

Sign up for our FREE newsletter

Get new articles, advice, tips, and money hacks delivered right in your email inbox!

It is relatively easy to see where your money goes on credit card statements and bank records from your debit card, but cash has a tendency to simply disappear. One great way to find out where your money is going is to keep a journal of all your transactions. For one week, try writing down every time you spend money on something. I think that you will be quite surprised when you add it all up in the end.

Laying It All Out There

To make a budget work, you need to find everything both your income and your expenses and put them all on the table. You need to find out how much income you are really bring in and not just a guess as to what your pre-tax salary is. You may be surprised by things on your pay stub that you haven’t looked at in years like your withholdings.

Actually Setting Up The Budget

Now is the time to write your budget down. Start by listing your monthly income and then begin subtracting all your expenses that you encounter every month. There are several software programs that can help with this if you did not want to use the tried and true pen and paper method.

I like to use Microsoft Excel to help me with my budget. Quicken is another popular finance software that can help you set up a budget and monitor your accounts. Many people also use, which is a free online web-based system where you can set goals, monitor your spending, build a budget, and see all your accounts in one location. Either way, these programs can automatically update all of your many accounts, categorize your spending, and help you build a budget.

Once you have a true picture of your income and your monthly expenses, it is time to see where you stand. You may make the stark realization that you are spending more than you bring in every month and have a negative cash flow.

By looking at your expenses that you have listed on your budget, you can see where you may need cut back to make your budget balance. If you are cash flow positive, it is important to look at your goals. Do you want to save more? Do you want to buy a house?

Whatever your financial goal is, you can use your budget to start factoring that money in it in order to reach those goals. You can then play with different spending categories to see where you can find money to get to your goal.

However, by having it all laid out in a budget, you now have the power to make decisions where you want to go with your finances. A budget makes it easy to see where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.

About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]

Hank Coleman has written 525 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

Subscribe To Money Q&A

If you want to learn more about taking back control of your money please subscribe to Money Q&A’s RSS feed or via email to receive all the latest articles! You can also subscribe to our Free Weekly Newsletter.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Kurt @ Money Counselor

“A budget makes it easy to see where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.” Right on! A budget’s value is measured by how well it helps you make better money decisions. That’s the whole idea of budgeting, right?
Kurt @ Money Counselor recently posted..Fake Debt CollectorsMy Profile


Paul @ The Frugal Toad

Great message Hank! It’s difficult to get a handle on spending if you don’t have a plan.
Paul @ The Frugal Toad recently posted..How to Save Money With CouponsMy Profile


Elizabeth @ Simple Finance

Yeah, I’m one of those people who HATE to budget – it just feels so restrictive, and since I like to rebel, I’m tempted to blow my budget just to prove my nonconfirmity. That said, laying it all out there and seeing exactly where I’m wasting my money is enough to keep me on track. Nothing like seeing $75 spent on fast food to get you back into shape (figuratively and financially).
Elizabeth @ Simple Finance recently posted..How does a Letter of Credit Differ from a Bank Guarantee?My Profile



Without a budget, people go about figuring out their finances with a blindfold. I may not like it, but I do it to see where I am at and where I want to be.
Taline recently posted..How To Be An Investor In Commercial Property. 10 Tips You NEED To Know!My Profile



I can understand what you mean why people hates the B word. In my case, it gives me a sense that I am not free to spend the money to my choosing. I was wrong.

It is more better to keep track of my expenditures since it can help me create a leeway for my pleasure spending.
Stephen recently guitar booksMy Profile



I certainly do some of the things you mentioned. See, it’s just my first job and I want to really save money for myself. I try to calculate my expenses for everyday and I get a pretty good amount of savings at the end of the week. It’s much better to start learning how to budget at an early age, right? Thanks!
Sherry recently posted..good dating tipsMy Profile


Air Max Pas Cher

Air Max Pas Cher, Wow, amazing weblog format! How long have you been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The total look of your web site is wonderful, as well as the content!



Since email address details are typically ideal if it is applied correctly any amount of cash allocated
to this adult remedy will probably be worth it.
Jerrold recently posted..JerroldMy Profile


camping world tampa

Similar to any getaway, a family camping trip takes some forethought
as well as planning.
camping world tampa recently posted..camping world tampaMy Profile



Acne is just a type of skin infection which will be considered to occur at another
or one time in around 85% of the people.
Weldon recently posted..WeldonMy Profile



Since recommendations require firms to set up financial constraints for their forecasted expenses,
a practical capital account is set away and looked after for
this purpose You?can?read?this?article?how?to?encourage?kids?to?back?to?school?with?the?idea?of??NBA?Le – Bron.
Jim recently posted..JimMy Profile



The use of innovation will be featured in preparation and also response through
using social networks, geographical details systems as well
as cellular phone apps.
Tony recently posted..TonyMy Profile



The regulation, as a matter of urgency, should supply long-term, constant financing, over the current budget degrees, for storm research and for enhanced prediction solutions, communications, reduction programs
as well as response ability.
Barry recently posted..BarryMy Profile


hurricane preparation in mexico

A deserted police wagon is viewed on the highly broken beach in the
Rockaway area of Brooklyn are all that stay after the historic boardwalk was washed away throughout Storm Sandy on Oct.
hurricane preparation in mexico recently posted..hurricane preparation in mexicoMy Profile



Here’s a regular scenario for some students that’s created by the predatory student loan system that will Bonn says really encourages foreclosures in order
to increase profits: From Three to five percent of american citizens are fleeing the United
States as well as living to foreign countries in order to escape oppressive student
loan debt, according to Msnbc Money Regarding jewelry being a marine engagement ring, soldiers can easily trust this dedicated armed forces jewelry retailer
jordon recently posted..jordonMy Profile


hurricane preparedness kit checklist

Thanks to every person who has or sustains supported the Storm Katrina recovery.
hurricane preparedness kit checklist recently posted..hurricane preparedness kit checklistMy Profile



Luckily, loan merchants are happy to give qualified
prospects the help they should be buy the auto that is suitable for their needs Illegals don’t
pay taxes and so they send a lot of that money thus to their family
at home, so it is definitely not spent listed here where it helps the local
economic climate
kill recently posted..killMy Profile



Though Juniper Lake is accessible using auto or vehicle,
the rugged filth roadway causing the campground avoids Recreational vehicles, trailers and buses from reaching the secluded lakeside facility.
Julio recently posted..JulioMy Profile


camping gear websites

That’s the ruin of Camping and also other day setters since what if Christ were ahead a day before or the day
after becausre they’ve had their mind transfixed on this day
for so long they wouldn’t prepare if he came Prior to or Then day.
camping gear websites recently posted..camping gear websitesMy Profile



McAuliffe stated a state of unexpected emergency
for the state Wednesday ahead of heavy rainfall and the threat of typhoon Joaquin.
Nicki recently posted..NickiMy Profile


camping gear walmart

If you intend to practice it in your holiday, you will certainly need to purchase
your equipment from a specialised center, as well as to find an appropriate method to deliver it.
You need to understand that you do not need greater than one board, as well as you could place
your kites over your shoulders, or in a bag.
camping gear walmart recently posted..camping gear walmartMy Profile



Prevent utilizing gravel or stones as mulch in hurricane-prone locations; bring in grass furnishings
and also various other yard items when a storm threatens; and also keep trees cut to lower the threat of
falling arm or legs.
Charmain recently posted..CharmainMy Profile


Asking questions are genuinely nice thing if you are not
understanding something fully, however this post gives fastidious understanding yet. recently posted..megaspiele.netMy Profile


camping gear walmart

So you could save a great deal of money over time with complimentary camping
while having a great time.
camping gear walmart recently posted..camping gear walmartMy Profile


Helpful information. Fortunate me I found your site by chance,
and I am shocked why this coincidence didn’t took place in advance!
I bookmarked it. recently posted.. Profile



Shelter-in-place or refuge-of-last-resort remedies are being taken into consideration to aid meet cyclone hazards.
Tonia recently posted..ToniaMy Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: