How to Make a Monthly Budget That Works

You don't have to reach the end of the month wondering where your money went. Doing a budget is simply telling your money where to go. And if you're not good at budgeting yet, that's okay! It takes a little time. By your third budget, you'll be a pro.

  1. 1) Write down your total income for the month.

    This is your total take-home (after tax) pay for both you and, if you're married, your spouse. Don't forget to include everything—full-time jobs, second jobs, freelance pay, Social Security checks, and any other ongoing sources of income.

  2. 2) List all your expenses.

    Think about your regular bills (mortgage, electricity, etc.) and your irregular bills (quarterly payments like insurance or HOA) that are due for the upcoming month. After that, total your other costs, like food, gas, and entertainment. Every dollar you spend should be accounted for.

  3. 3) Subtract expenses from income to equal zero.

    This is called a zero-based budget, meaning your income minus your expenses should equal zero. If you're over or under, check your math or simply return to the previous step and try again.

  4. 4) Track your expenses throughout the month.

    Once you start the budget, you'll still need to stay on top of your expenses. The good news is that EveryDollar makes tracking your expenses (and budgeting for them) extremely easy. Visit EveryDollar.com to learn more!

Read More
Show More

Hear From the Experts

Budget Together

Cheryl and her husband are having money issues, and Dave thinks it's because they're not working together. He has lots of good advice for becoming one with money in a marriage.

Read Transcript

Using the Extra

Victor just worked some overtime and brought home $2,900 with this paycheck. Should he and his wife put some extra money toward their kids' birthdays this month or put the extra toward their debt?

Read Transcript
Listen to More Clips

Need help creating a budget? EveryDollar will help you focus your money on what matters.

Learn to Budget Like a Pro

Learn to Budget Like a Pro

Get the Free EveryDollar Guide to Budgeting

Learn to Budget Like a Pro

Get the Free EveryDollar Guide to Budgeting