Pen and paper
It may seem old-fashioned, but one of the best ways to get started on creating a budget is to write it all down. Make a list of all of your sources of income and your expenses. Your income can include more than just your job. Student loan refunds, familial support, and other recurring sources of income should be included, whether the money comes in every month, semester, or year. When considering your expenses, don’t forget to take into account spending on things like entertainment, shopping, and groceries, in addition to your monthly bills. The pen and paper method offers you the most control over the formatting and planning of your budget.
Create a spreadsheet
If pen and paper is too low-tech for you, try creating a budget spreadsheet. This will use the same principles and offer the same level of control as the handwritten method, but a computer program will do the math for you. There are plenty of templates available online to use as a starting point, or you can create your own. This is a particularly good method if you are prone to losing paperwork.
Find a budgeting app
The easiest way to create a budget and check how you are doing on the go is to use a budgeting app or website. There are a lot of free apps available that will automatically sync with your financial accounts. After you have entered your various bills and expenses, the app will do most of the budget work for you. Some even offer the option to receive email or text alerts when you are getting close to your budget thresholds. With this option, be sure to do your research and pick a secure program before entering your account information. There are a lot of budgeting tools out there, and you can’t go wrong as long as you are finding a way to be mindful about your finances.