Step One: Calculate Your After_Tax Income. Your after_tax income is what remains of your paycheck after taxes are taken out, such as state tax, local tax, income tax, Medicare, and Social Security. If you're an employee with a steady paycheck, your after_tax income should be easy to figure out. Look at your paystubs. If health care, retirement contributions, or any other deductions are taken out of your paycheck, add them back in.
Next list all your variable expenses_those that may change from month to month such as groceries, gas and entertainment. This is an area where you might find opportunities to cut back. Credit card and bank statements are a good place to start since they often itemize or categorize your monthly expenditures. Tip: Record your daily spending with anything that’s handy_a pen and paper, an app or your smartphone.