Step 3: Set your goals. Before you start sifting through the information you’ve tracked, make a list of all the financial goals you want to accomplish in the short_ and long_term. Short_term goals should take no longer than a year to achieve. Long_term goals, such as saving for retirement or your child’s education, may take years to reach. Remember, your goals don’t have to be set in stone, but identifying your priorities before you start planning a budget will help. For example, it may be easier to cut spending if you know your short_term goal is to reduce credit card debt.
You might choose to break down your expenses even further, between things you need to have and things you want to have. For instance, if you drive to work every day, gasoline probably counts as a need. A monthly music subscription, however, may count as a want. This difference becomes important when it’s time to make adjustments.