Step 1: Note your net income. The first step in creating a budget is to identify the amount of money you have coming in. Keep in mind, however, that it's easy to overestimate what you can afford if you think of your total salary as what you have to spend. Remember to subtract your deductions for Social Security, taxes, 401(k) and flexible spending account allocations when creating a budget worksheet. Your final take_home pay is called net income, and that is the number you should use when creating a budget.Tip: If you have a hobby or a talent, you may be able to find a way to supplement your income. Having an extra source of income can also be helpful if you ever lose your job.
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.