Get Your Budget on Track. You're not going to get ahead financially until you develop a reasonable budget _ one that allows for both some indulgences and for emergencies _ and then stick to that budget. Budgeting your money is the cornerstone of a sound financial plan. You might scoff at the idea of creating a budget _ after all, you pretty much know what you spend every month, especially on big_ticket items like rent/mortgage or car payment.
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.