facebook pixel 7 Easy Steps to Start a Budget
Site Search
< Blog Home < Healthy Living

7 Easy Steps to Start a Budget

You probably already know you should budget your money, but knowing and doing it are two different things. Here’s a quick guide to basic budgeting.

Piggy bank and calculator, 5 tips for starting and maintaining a budget

Budgeting helps you spend money on things you actually want to spend it on, and helps you realize where you’re spending money that should be saved instead.

So to get all the many benefits of budgeting, where do you start? The great news is, apps and other online resources make this process easy. Here are five things you can do in the next 20 minutes to start your budget.

Related: Three Benefits of a Health Savings Account

Figure out your monthly income

For some people, this is a simple step. For those who work contract jobs that ebb and flow seasonally, this is trickier, but the first step to knowing what you can spend and what you can save is knowing how much you’re actually taking home.

Download a money tracking app

Before apps, budgeting was a lot harder. Of course you can track your spending manually, but you’re more likely to stick to your budget if it requires as little work as possible. That’s where apps come in handy.

There are several tracking apps—some are free, like Mint, Fudget, or GoodBudget, but some people swear by You Need a Budget, a paid app. If you’re uncomfortable linking your bank account to these apps and would prefer to enter your expenses manually, you can try out Dollarbird.

Once you download one of these apps and enter your information, it will start tracking how you spend your money. Having it broken down into categories will be essential for budgeting.

Set a calendar reminder to check your finances regularly

Maybe this is once a week for you, once a day, or once a month. When that reminder goes off, you’ll hop onto your tracking app and see how you’re doing financially for that time period.

Schedule your bills to pay automatically

Again, the easier you make your finances, the more likely you will be able to maintain good habits. Schedule your regular bills to pay automatically and you won’t have to worry about them again.

Determine your priorities and goals

Where do you spend your money? Make a list in order of importance. Indicate which items are needs and which are wants. You don’t have to determine how much money you spend on each thing yet, but rank them on your priorities. For example:

  • Is getting a regular haircut more important to you than decorating your apartment?
  • Is going out to eat with friends more important than traveling?

All of these are wants rather than needs, but which are more important?

This list should also include your financial goals. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, maybe your first goal is to start saving a tiny bit of money each month. Or maybe you want to save to replace your car, buy a home, or get out of debt. Include those in your priorities list as well.

Assign spending amounts to each category

Once you’ve made a list of priorities, look at how much you make each month and start dividing it up. Subtract all your rent or mortgage and loan payments first. Choose the amount you want to save each month. Nearly all financial gurus recommend saving some of your monthly income every paycheck—even if it’s only five dollars.

Now make guesses on what you spend on food and transportation each month. Go through the critical categories first before moving onto your wants categories. The goal is to assign a maximum amount you can spend each month in your most important categories.

Related: Better Cost Transparency with Our Medical Cost Estimator

Come back in a week and see how you did

Budgets usually require adjusting. Check on your budgeting app to see where your money went. If you need to allow more money in one category, pull it from another.

Once you’ve created this budget, it makes it easy to look at what you’re spending money on and make adjustments to save you money. For example, if you’re spending a lot on food, you can decide you’re going to eat out less, or learn how to cook more efficiently.

Budgeting feels daunting at first, but there’s really not much more to it than these six steps. In 20 minutes you can set up an easy budget and start accomplishing your financial goals.

Is budgeting easy for you? Tell us the ways you budget in the comments. And while you’re here, check out our other healthy living articles.



SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

You May Also Like...

Healthcare and Insurance Basics

Preventive Care for Men and Women: Cancer Screenings [Infographic]

Preventive care can help you gauge your current health status and find out ways to protect it now and in the future. Follow these recommendations for getting screened for cancer.

Nutrition and Diet

Baked Spinach and Mushroom Quesadilla

An easy meal to make for your family, and your kids will never know they are packed with nutrients!

In the Community

Is Your Organization Keeping Utah Healthy? Apply for Our Award

Each year, we recognize 20 organizations that are making a healthy difference in Utah to help support their missions.


How Our Mission Differentiates Us from Our Competitors

Here’s a look at how our mission helps our products differ from our competitors, how we educate consumers about their plan options, and how our team is involved in local communities.

Contenido Español

Consejos para preparar un depósito de alimentos y qué tener en su despensa

Cocinar en casa no tiene que ser complicado.

Related Articles

Related Articles

Healthy Living

7 Sleep Tips for a New School Year

Sleep is just as important as food, drink, and safety. Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep now that school has started.

Healthy Living

How to Find the Right Workout for You

If you’re convinced you hate to work out, maybe the issue is that you haven’t found the right type of workout. Here are some options for every complaint.

Healthy Living

These Everyday Activities May Be Sabotaging Your Diet

When it comes to your diet, some bad habits are more obvious than others. We’ll show you 10 surprising ways you may be wreaking havoc on your health.

Healthy Living

10 Interesting Health Facts about Past Presidents

Did you know that Lyndon Johnson took power naps during his presidency? Find out more interesting ways our founding fathers stayed healthy.

Post Author

Amberlee Lovell Peterson
Amberlee is a content manager, freelance writer, and designer. She is currently working on launching her own podcast and loves baby foxes.