The first step towards any financial goal is making a budget.

Regardless of whether you are saving to buy your first house, a big trip or even college, the first thing that you’ll need to do to reach your financial goal is to make a budget. Budgeting is the only way to get a clear picture of what is going on from a financial standpoint, and it will help you learn just how much you can save, pay down debt or spend on a monthly basis. But creating a budget and sticking to a budget are two very different things. That’s why we’ve come up with these tips for making a budget you can actually stick with.

#1. Calculate your expenses.

Learning how much you’re spending, and what you’re spending it on, is a key aspect of any budget. Your expenses include your rent or mortgage, all of your bills, your groceries, gas and anything else you spend money on, such as going to the movies or eating out. Tracking your expenses can be easier said than done, especially if you haven’t been paying much attention to your spending habits, but luckily, there are a lot of great tools out there that can help. To get a real, clear understanding of how you spend money, track your expenses for at least two months.

#2. Determine how much you are making.

Once you know what your expenses look like, add your income to your budget. This should include your salary from your job, but it should include any additional funds you may receive as well, such as child support, rental income, interest dividends, etc.

#3. Set your financial goal.

While you may already have a goal in mind prior to setting out to make a budget, now that you know what your expenses and income look like, you can refine your goal to make it more realistic for your budget. This information will make it possible for you to determine exactly how much you can save or pay off each month, giving you a clear understanding of what your goal should realistically be, and when you could realistically reach it.

#4. Evaluate and re-evaluate your budget.

Budgeting isn’t something you should just do once and forget about. Your budget should be ever-changing, based on your income, expenses and goals. Some budgets look great on paper, but aren’t so great in real life. And, by evaluating and re-evaluating your budget on a regular basis, you can keep it fine-tuned for our own goals and needs.

Budgeting is an essential part of reaching any financial goal, but creating a budget you can actually stick with isn’t always so easy. With the Goal Plus financing planning app, you’ll have everything you need to reach your financial goals. Best of all, you can get the best financial planning app on the market for free! Download Goal Plus today to start making progress toward your financial goal. And, to learn tips for sticking with your budget, stay tuned for our next blog.