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Welcome to the Real World: Budgeting

Now that you've got a steady paycheck, you need to figure out what you're going to do with the money you earn. Lots of people fall into the habit of spending more than they can afford, and it's one of the quickest ways to fall behind and slip into debt. Knowing your income and expenses, spending less than you make and starting to save is the only way to get ahead.

Spend Smart
What are your top priorities, and where can you cut back? Those ripped jeans and hoodies from college days probably won't cut it at your new job, so you may need to spend a little more money on clothes. But cooking a nice dinner at home instead of eating out somewhere spendy can save you. Ditto for making gifts instead of buying them, choosing the generic brand at stores when you can etc.

Create a Budget
This is the easy part. Add up your income (your take-home pay, that is), estimate your expenses and figure out the difference. Then decide how much of that you can put into savings. Once you've made your budget, track your spending over the next few months to see how well you're sticking to it.

Stash Some Away
Building up your savings is the way to save for what’s important—and to weather future storms. If you’re already saving, see if you can save more. If you have school loans, try paying a little extra on them each month. Since your money and your debt have a long time to grow, every little sacrifice you make today will pay off big in the future.

For more advice on successful budgeting, click here.

Download the Budget Money Guide