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've completed the budget worksheet, what now? Should you find that at the end of the month that you are consistently spending more than you are bringing in, it might be time to take a closer look at where you're spending your money and adjust those areas you can to make up the difference. Should you find, on the other hand, that you consistently have money left over every month, you now have the opportunity to decide what to do with that extra cash. Do you need to build up an emergency or "rainy day" fund? Could you be contributing more to your retirement savings? Could you pay certain loans off faster? Or perhaps you would like to save up for a special or large purchase.