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Many of us see budgeting as a process that is only important to CEOs, managers and entrepreneurs who are running their own business. In reality, however, most of us can benefit from sound and effective budgeting in our personal lives. Moreover, given the plethora of budgeting tools, strategies and advice that is available today, you don’t even have to be a math whiz or have a comprehensive understanding of financial planning to set up your own personal budget.

Use a Budgeting Tool

There are plenty of budgeting tools available for consumer use, many of which come in the form of computer software or smartphone apps. Whichever platform you choose, you’ll have plenty of options to consider. Some of the most popular paid software includes Quicken, Moneydance and more. Even Microsoft Excel, part of Microsoft Office Suite, can be adapted to a highly useful and versatile budgeting platform. Comparably free options include Budgetpulse and BudgetSimple. Other brands, like AceMoney, offer both free and paid versions of their software.

The thought of budgeting software may be intimidating at first, but such programs have come a long way from the overly complicated, archaic and downright ugly applications of the past. In fact, much of today’s budgeting software is fully automated. The software really only needs you to input the specifics.

Whichever software or platform you choose, make sure to pick one that is user-friendly, accessible and able to meet all of your budgeting needs. If necessary, most budgeting tools feature online tutorials, technical support and user communities that can provide assistance as needed.

Stick to the Necessities

If you do find yourself on a tight budget, either as a result of a lack of work or some other matter entirely, you may have no other choice but to eliminate the stuff you don’t really need and stick strictly to the necessities. This is easier said than done, especially for those who are used to living a more comfortable lifestyle, but it might be the only viable option.

To achieve this, you may need to take a step back and examine your current lifestyle as well as your spending habits and contrast these with your total income. If you find that you are trying to live beyond your means, it’s probably time to cut back on some of the things you simply don’t need. This might require a careful self-examination and self-criticism on your behalf, but it’s essential to making sure your personal budget is balanced on a month-to-month basis.

Reward Yourself

Finally, don’t be afraid to reward yourself when you achieve a financial goal or milestone. Setting specific rewards ahead of time is great, but ad hoc, impromptu or otherwise unexpected rewards can go a long way in reiterating your success, supporting your achievements and paving the way for future accomplishments.

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