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2. Separate the necessities from the wants

5 components of a budget

Others, like groceries, utilities and Uber, will vary. If not, this is where tracking comes in. For the next month, write down everything you buy and what it costs. Whip out your iPhone calculator and total your monthly income and monthly expenses, then subtract your expenses from your income. If your total income is a greater number than your expenses and you factored in savings : Yay! But if your expenses are greater than your income then you will need to ….

5 steps to balancing your budget

Ultimately, you want your income to be greater than your expenses — with a nice cushion for both savings and unexpected events. Because, life happens. Watch a movie on Netflix instead of going out? Hit up fewer happy hours with the girls?

Balance your budget — with lunch

YNAB is a zero-based budget system, where every dollar is assigned to a category, meaning that you have zero dollars that have no assigned purpose although you can make categories for fun money and other spending. Although it takes a few months to get to that point, the stress relief of knowing that your expenses are covered ahead of time is refreshing. The developer even offers free workshops and classes aimed at teaching you the ropes, so be ready to delve in if you decide this is the app for you.

In that case, Mint is the app for you.

5 steps to balancing your budget

Mint allows you to link and display all your accounts — from bank accounts to credit cards and even investments. If you need a little extra guidance, the app will give you bill reminders and notifications when your payments are due. It will also alert you when your account balances are low, helping you avoid dreaded overdraft fees.

You just need a commitment to financial goals, determination to live below your means and a willingness to make the necessary adjustments.

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Before creating a budget , review your financial history. Using bank and credit card statements, identify both how much income you take in, and how much you typically spend on expenses. Compile the financial information into two separate categories: expected income and expected expenses.

Creating a Budget

Expected income should include wages, self-employment income, investment income and other sources of income. Next, list expected expenses such as mortgage or rent, utilities, and cable and cellphone costs.

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Lastly, subtract expected expenses from expected income to determine the amount you have available after expenses are paid. The available amount should be put away for rainy days, used to pay down debt or applied to other financial goals.

15 Minutes to Budgeting Your Money

Further separate your expected expenses into two additional categories: discretionary expenses and nondiscretionary expenses. Nondiscretionary expenses are necessities, such as rent, utilities and groceries.