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.
How to use your monthly budget worksheet. Below is a worksheet that attempts to list possible sources of monthly income as well as expenses. As everyone's financial situation is different, you may find that not every category is applicable to your income or spending. You may even find that some months are different than others, but you should find through going through this exercise you are better prepared for those changes and even accounting for unanticipated expenses.