1. For most people, budgets are a necessity.
Don’t believe that budgets are only for people with limited funds. In reality, they’re the
only practical way to get a grip on your spending – and to make sure your money is
being used the way you want it to be used.

2. Creating a budget generally requires three steps.

– Identify how you’re spending money now.
– Evaluate your current spending and set goals that take into account your long-term
financial objectives.
– Track your spending to make sure it stays within those guidelines.

3. Use software to save yourself grief.

If you use a personal-finance program such as Quicken or Microsoft Money, the built-in
budget-making tools can create your budget for you. Plus they come in real handy at
the end of the year.

4. Don’t drive yourself crazy.

One drawback of monitoring your spending by computer is that it encourages
overzealous attention to detail. Once you determine which categories of spending can
and should be cut (or expanded), concentrate on those categories and worry less about
other aspects of your spending.

5. Watch out for cash leakage.

If withdrawals from the ATM machine evaporate from your pocket without apparent
explanation, it’s time to keep better records. In general, if you find yourself returning to
the ATM more than once a week or so, you need to examine where that cash is going.

6. Spending beyond your limits is dangerous.

But if you do, you’ve got plenty of company. Government figures show that many
households with total income of $50,000 or less are spending more than they bring in.
This doesn’t make you an automatic candidate for bankruptcy – but it’s definitely a sign
you need to make some serious spending cuts.

7. Beware of luxuries dressed up as necessities.

If your income doesn’t cover your costs, then some of your spending is probably for
luxuries – even if you’ve been considering them to be filling a real need.8. Tithe yourself.
Aim to spend no more than 90% of your income. That way, you’ll have the other 10%
left to save for your big-picture items.

9. Don’t count on windfalls.

When projecting the amount of money you can live on, don’t include dollars that you
can’t be sure you’ll receive, such as year-end bonuses, tax refunds or investment gains.

10. Beware of spending creep.

As your annual income climbs from raises, promotions and smart investing, don’t start
spending for luxuries until you’re sure that you’re staying ahead of inflation. It’s better to
use those income increases as an excuse to save more.