Step Into the Budget Lite

woman in field

OK, Ladies: That was an awakening.
In response to our recent poll, about half of you admitted that you either don't have a budget, or the one you have is a bust.

We hear you. We've sung the budget blues. But we also know that the right system can transform your finances from a mess into a well-oiled machine. Try again, this time tackling one small spending area. These five easy steps will build momentum, confidence—and cash.

  1. Pick an expense: eating out, gardening supplies, cabs, random recreational activities, etc. Rate it on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = easy to cut, 5 = requires heavy lifting). Pick an easier area to start.
  2. Get a baseline. What's your monthly spend in that area? Read one bank statement to get a tally. Or use online software like Mint, Pearbudget, or Thrive to aggregate your spending.
  3. Pick a target. If you're spending, say, $400 a month on groceries, pick a reasonable, lower amount to shoot for.
  4. Change habits, not just numbers. Your first impulse will be to cut what you spend, say, on beer or magazines. Instead look at the habits that have inflated your spending—impulse purchases? bringing your kids shopping?—and change those.
  5. Save. As you spend less in your target area, funnel some or all of that money into a savings category or into debt payback.

Tell us—are you through with budgets or ready to try again?

This article was also featured on Shecky's.