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What to Consider Before You Start a Budget

Updated: Feb 15

What to consider before you start a budget

Take these simple steps before you make your budget.

Think about your financial goals

Identify your short-term and long-term goals. Make saving for those goals part of your budget.

For example, goals may be:

Short-term goals:

· paying off your credit card

· reducing your weekly expenses

· starting to build an emergency fund

Long-term goals:

· paying off all of your debts

· saving to buy a home, a car or booking a trip

· saving to have children, to go to school or to retire

To deal with unexpected situations, create an emergency fund. Your emergency fund should provide you with enough money to cover your living expenses for 3 to 6 months. These amounts can sometimes seem out of reach. That is why you should start by saving a small amount on a regular basis.

Having an emergency fund will help you reduce financial stress and avoid getting trapped in a debt cycle.

Know where your money is going

Tracking your money will help you figure out what comes in and what goes out of your pocket. Every dollar you spend affects your overall budget.

For example, if you spend $2.50 a day on coffee, it will cost you more than $900 a year.


To keep track of where your money is going, take note of what you spend.

Try this exercise for 1 or 2 months:

· keep track of everything you buy, from groceries to a daily cup of coffee

· keep a copy of bills you pay during this period

· try dividing your expenses into 2 categories: “needs” and “wants”

Small changes to spending habits can have a major impact on your budget and your ability to save.

Evaluate your needs and wants

Knowing the difference between your needs and your wants is key to making a smart budget.

A "need" is something that is necessary, required or essential. For example, a roof over your head, clothing, food, or medication.

A "want" is something that you'd like, but don't necessarily need. For example, meals at a restaurant, a trip, a gym membership, or designer shoes.

Needs and wants aren't the same for everyone. One person's “want” may be another person's “need”. For example, if you live near a bus route, a car may be a want rather than a need. However, if you don't have access to public transit and can't cycle to work, you may need a car.

Your needs and wants may also change over time. For example, a large house may be a need while you're raising a family. However, a condo or a smaller home may be what you need when your children move out. Once you’ve figured out your needs and wants, you’re ready to start your budget.


A. Answer the following questions:

1. What are the 3 simple steps that you need to take before making your budget?


2. What are two kinds of financial goals?


3. Give examples of short term goals.


4. Give examples of long term goals.


5. An emergency fund is __________________________________________________________________________

6. For how long should an emergency fund cover your living expenses?


7. How can we create an emergency fund?


8. What are the benefits of having an emergency fund?


9. Give examples of: a. need b. a want



B. Fill in the blanks with the correct word(s):

Figure out – affects – overall – keep track – categories – impact – access – move out – budget – evaluate

1. Making a budget will help you ---------- your expenses.

2. You need to make a ---------- to get to know where your money is going.

3. My son is 22 and has a full time job. He needs to ----------.

4. In some poor countries people don’t have ---------- to the internet.

5. You’ll notice the ---------- of your budget after a month or two.

6. If you want to have an accurate budget, divide it into ----------.

7. It’s useful to ---------- of all the money that you spend.

8. The ---------- budget looks good and promising.

9. Saving money now will ---------- your life later.

10. I didn’t understand how to make a budget but I ---------- it ---------- after you explained it to me.


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