In this article, we will discuss 8 easy steps to creating a budget for the average millennial that is easy to manage and easy to understand.

Portrait of handsome young man studying in creative workspace of modern college, resting on bean bag and creating a budget Budgeting and finances are easily the most unpopular topic of discussion, we get it. Unless you are trained in the art of financing, this concept can seem incredibly daunting. We’re here to let you know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Anyone who has a smartphone has access to hundreds of free or paid budget apps. These can be extremely helpful and easy to understand. We recommend following these steps before downloading one of those handy apps. This way, you have all of your information in front of you, making it easier and more efficient to walk through these apps. We recommend using excel or another similar system to record everything. This way, everything is aligned, neat, and on one page.

1. List everything you owe.

Most Americans owe lenders in some form or another…if not many! Make a list of all of your debt:
  • Who do you owe?
  • How often do you make payments? (generally monthly)
  • What is your minimum monthly payment? (if you pay more than the min-write that)
    • If you want to go the extra mile, include what your interest rate is on each of these loans. It’s important to stay aware of these as they may fluctuate. Also, this is important to know if you are considering refinancing.
  • When are they due?
Student loan → $X/Mo → % Interest →  due XX/01/2017 Car payment → $X/Mo → % Interest → due XX/01/2017 *This does not reflect the total amount due, just your monthly payment* If you only can make the minimum payments for now, that’s o.k. We’ll revisit this list later.

2. List your monthly expenses.

Everyone has monthly subscriptions, expenses, and/or ‘dues.’ Write them down by name, what the monthly payment is, and the day they are due. Rent → $X/Mo →  due XX/01/2017 Utilities → $X/Mo →  due XX/01/2017 Subscriptions (such as streaming or news subscriptions) → $X/Mo →  due XX/01/2017 Gym Membership → $X/Mo →  due XX/01/2017

3. Add your monthly debt & expenses.

Add these two numbers together- place it at the top. This is the chunk of change you will be expecting to pay every month.

4. List your monthly income.

Write what your monthly income is. If it fluctuates, look at the past 6 months, add them together, and divide by 6. This is your mean income. This goes at the top of your list.

5. Categorize your spendings.

This is probably the most time consuming but, undoubtedly, the most important step. Take a look at the last 3-6 months of your spending habits. Jot them down into categories and what their totals are. Example:
  • Gas → $X → July/17
  • Groceries (food items only if you can) → $X → July/17
  • Going out to eat → $X → July/17
  • Shopping → $X → July/17
  • Beauty products/vanity* → $X → July/17
  • Etc.
*When I did this, I personally noticed I spent way too much money on beauty products. It was such a significant amount, it got it’s own category! This can go towards any particular hobby or interest you spend money on. The more you are able to categorize, the more you will be able to analyze your shopping habits.

6. Face the facts.

At this point, you are either patting yourself on the back or sobbing. Personally, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. If you’re patting yourself on the back, great! You have officially graduated from Millennial Budgeting 101- now go put all of that extra cash in a savings account! If you’re like me and you’re still struggling to comprehend your ridiculous spending habits- it’s time to reevaluate, reevaluate, reevaluate! Do you really need Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Cable TV? I suggest giving cable the ax. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. And, stop buying things you can’t afford or don’t need.

7. Make your budget.

Now that you have the numbers in front of you and you’ve gotten rid of the things you don’t need, it’s time to set budgets. Remember, the goal is to save money every month. Every category needs to have a cap and you need to stick to that cap. Obviously, your monthly car payments and rent aren’t going to change, but I’m talking about those other spendings.
  • Income = X
  • Expenses = X
  • Spending
    • Gas = X
    • Groceries = X
    • Going out to eat = X
    • Shopping = X
      • * Remember this is ALL you’re allowed to spend each month*
Now you have your basic budget formula (Income/mo – Expenses/mo – Spending/mo = Savings/mo)

8. Manage your budget.

This is where you get to explore the different apps and stay on top of your finances. Personally, I do it all on Excel and upload it to a cloud so I can have it on my computer and take it with me on the go through my smartphone. Keep an eye on your spending and at the end of the month, look at it and look at those numbers. Another suggestion is to save your receipts throughout the day and enter those numbers in the evening or the next day (I like doing this because sometimes it takes awhile for my online banking to catch up). As stated before, there are a TON of budgeting apps out there and there are plenty of ways to manage your budget via technology. Try a few out and see what features you like or dislike. Remember, the goal is to save money at the end of each month. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.