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.
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.