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.
You will first complete the "Monthy Budget Amount" column to the best of your ability for the next month. These should be your best, informed estimates. Should a certain category not apply to you, you can simply leave it blank or enter a zero Ɔ' in the box. Over the course of the month, track your income and spending. At the end of the month, complete the "Monthly Actual Amount" column and compare it to your original estimates. Did you overestimate how much you'd spend on clothing, but underestimate the amount you'd spend eating out? Record the difference. Though you do not need to go through this exercise every month, it is extremely helpful at the start as it helps you to develop the most accurate monthly budget to reference moving forward.