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How to build a budget

The 3 steps to putting yourself in control of your money

Being the boss of your money starts with understanding what’s coming in and out of our bank accounts each month. To accomplish that, we need a budget.  

A budget can be like a four-letter word for most of us. But it shouldn’t be. Our budget should be the thing that makes us feel confident about our money and gives us the decision-making power to say where it goes. Sounds a lot better than worrying about making it to the end of the month, huh? 

We’ve broken down the steps for building a budget. The goal here isn’t to spend an entire weekend crunching numbers or digging through old receipts and bank statements. What we want to do is create a quick snapshot of where we think our money is going each month. Then, we can look back at our snapshot and refine for future months. 

Let’s get started. 

3 steps to build your budget 

  • Commit to it - Budgeting only works if it’s something you want to do and plan to stick with. Really - this is a mental thing. We have to be motivated to be the boss of our money for this to work.  
  • Know what’s coming in - To build our budget, we need to know what’s coming in each month and when. For most of us, that means looking at our paystub to understand what we’re earning and when it hits our account. Knowing this, we can figure out how much we have to spend and when we can spend it. It also helps us avoid costly things like overdrafts or needing a payday loan. (To learn more about your paycheck, what’s coming out and where it’s going, check out our video so you can stop asking, “What the heck, paycheck?”) 
  • Balance needs and wants - We’ve all got things we have to have - a roof over our heads, food on the table and reliable transportation. Then there’s the fun things, like shopping trips, movie nights and eating out. We can do all the things we need to do and the things we want to do by prioritizing what’s most important. Listing out the things we spend money on each month can help us see where our money is going and helps us evaluate what’s a priority. (If you want to add more fun without stretching your budget, check out our list of fun family-friendly activities you can do around Kansas City for free. That’s right - free! 

Get started building your budget - or just taking a fresh look at your spending - by downloading our free budget worksheet. Again, it’s designed to give you a quick snapshot of where your money is going. It won’t require digging through old paperwork or complex math.  

Or if you’re a budget ninja and want to dig even deeper into where your money goes each month, we’ve highlighted a few popular budgeting frameworks. And we've got a whole ebook that can help you become the master of your money.

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