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Starting and Sticking to a Budget: Step 3

Set Financial Goals

This is Step 3 in a series of 5 articles about starting and sticking to a budget. To start with step 1, click here.

3. Set goals
Before you start cutting back on your expenses, stop and think about what you want to be able to afford. Most importantly should be an emergency (savings) fund and debt elimination, followed by major investments like retirement, college or a down payment on a home.

Don't forget to think about the fun stuff. Do you want to take the kids to Disney World? Want to buy a boat? Write those down. Include other practical goals, such as braces for your son, a violin for your daughter or a new water heater.

Next, include the smaller, personal goals. Do you want to have an extra $40 a month for your scrapbooking hobby? Or maybe you want to splurge on tickets to a sporting event or a fancy dinner every few weeks. Write down those, too.

Finally, calculate how much money you need to save to reach your goals by your desired timeline. For example, if you want to take a trip to Ireland in five years, and you expect it will cost $7,000, then you need to save $116.66 a month. If that's not in the budget, that's OK. Start small. Saving $50 a month (or even $5) for a goal is a good start. Increase your savings as you can.

Extra credit: The more debt you have, the longer you might have to wait to reach all of those goals.  But no matter whether you owe $100 or $100,000, make sure you treat yourself once in a while. Deprivation has as detrimental of an effect on your financial well-being as a starvation diet does on your physical well-being. Reward yourself on occasion with that manicure, round of golf or even a new CD or book and you'll be more likely to stick to your budget.

Keep reading! Starting and Sticking to a Budget - Step 4

Interested in talking with others who are trying to save money? Check out one of these MommyTeams. Frugal Living, Penny Pinchers, Coupons to Trade, Share or Need, $$$ Online Bargain Mamas $$$, and Broke MommyTeam.
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health and fitness, with an emphasis on whole foods and from-scratch cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys Spinning, international travel and vegetables of all kinds. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

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