Budgeting basics

How to make an annual budget

A guide to mastering your money by crafting an annual budget!

June 2, 2023
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3
 min read
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Last updated:
Jan 12
A man and a woman discussing what the man is pointing at on a laptop screen in front of them.

The gist: By setting clear goals, understanding your income and expenses, prioritizing savings and debt repayments, and allowing room for discretionary spending, you can create a financial plan that works for you. 

Budgeting, for some, feels a bit like a thorn in the side. But, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it's your secret weapon towards financial freedom, a path to navigating your monetary landscape with confidence. So, let's roll up our sleeves, harness our financial savvy, and get this ball rolling. We're about to make budgeting not just bearable, but your ticket to a stress-free financial future.

Planting the Seeds: Defining Your Financial Goals

Every thrilling journey starts with a destination. And your annual budgeting journey? No different. What's the dream? Buying a car, taking that life-changing trip to the Maldives, or simply feeling comfortable enough to splurge on the occasional sushi dinner without the dread of checking your bank account afterward? Your goals are the guiding light - your financial North Star. Make them genuine, make them real, and most importantly, make them yours.

Taking Stock: Figuring Out Your Income

Next up, we need to see what we're working with. It's time to pull out those pay stubs, bank statements, or any sort of holy document that proves that yes, you do indeed make money. This is your gross income - your total earnings before the tax ninjas come swooping in.

The Necessary Bits: Unpacking Your Regular Expenses

Every superhero has a nemesis, and in the world of budgeting, expenses are it. But don't worry, they can be tamed. Start by tracking your regular, non-negotiable expenses. These are things like rent, utilities, groceries, and those student loans that just don't seem to take a hint and go away. They're the baseline, the floor of your budgeting high-rise.

Wielding Your Financial Might: Savings and Debt Payments

Now onto the fun part, and by 'fun' I mean 'absolutely crucial for your financial health.' This is where you designate chunks of your income for savings and for tackling any debts. This isn't just for those big-ticket items, but for future you. Future you wants to retire at some point, right? Future you might face an unexpected expense, too. It's time to be your own superhero and plan for those scenarios.

The Spice of Life: Your Discretionary Expenses

After all the serious stuff, we're down to discretionary expenses - the sprinkles on your financial sundae. This includes everything from nights out, travel, your Netflix subscription, or that yoga class where you're sure the instructor is trying to turn you into a pretzel. This is the area of your budget where you can exercise some flexibility. Just remember to be sensible. Remember, a little spice is nice, but too much and you're crying into your bowl of chili.

Dialing It In: Adjusting Your Budget

Once you've laid out your budget, you'll probably find it's not quite perfect. Maybe your discretionary expenses are looking a bit too healthy, or perhaps you've underestimated how much you spend on groceries (those organic avocados aren't cheap!). This is the time to tweak, adjust, and perfect your budget.

Review, Rinse & Repeat: Becoming a Budget Ninja

Finally, budgeting isn't a one-and-done deal. It's an ongoing process, a labor of love, a testament to your future self. So, revisit your budget periodically and adjust as needed. Life happens, things change, and your budget needs to keep up.

And there you have it - the secrets to crafting your annual budget, now laid bare. Just remember, budgeting is about making your money work for you, not against you. It's about financial freedom, empowerment, and being able to say "Yes, I can afford that second slice of pizza" without the slightest hesitation. And really, isn't that what life's all about?

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