Step Three: Limit Your "Wants" to 30 Percent. This sounds great on the surface. Can you put 30 percent of your money toward your wants? Hello, beautiful shoes, trip to Bali, salon haircuts, and Italian restaurants. Not so fast. Remember how strict we were with the definition of a "need"? Your "wants" don't include extravagances. They include the basic niceties of life that you enjoy, like that unlimited text messaging plan, your home's cable bill, and cosmetic (not mechanical) repairs to your car.
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.