How to Make a Budget

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

Take the fear out of budgeting with our step-by-step guide to crafting a budget you can really live with.

Step 1. Relax!

Before you do anything take a deep breath and relax. . . feel better? We’re not here to make the perfect budget, or change your financial world overnight. We’ll get to that later. For now we just need to put a budget together that we can work with. There will be plenty of time to reflect and make changes later. The most important thing is to just get started, keep going.

Read more

6 Budgeting Tips to Get the Most Out of the EEBA App

Angela Colley is a financial writer for Money Crashers Personal Finance, an online resource with tips for budgeting, saving for long-term goals, and planning for early retirement.

For years, I kept track of my financial budget on a piece of paper in my desk drawer. It was an okay system, but it didn’t allow me to track my financial goals. I just didn’t have the time to compare my spending with my budget each month.

Then I got a smartphone and discovered the Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA) app. Now I stay on top of my finances, stay within budget, and always have enough money for what I need. It took me a while to work out a budgeting system using the EEBA app, but now I have great system, and you can too.

Here are some tips you can use to get the most out of the EEBA app:

1. Create Plenty of Envelopes
A well-organized tracking system makes it easier to make a budget, and to know exactly where your money goes. The EEBA app utilizes “Envelopes” as a method of creating budget categories. When I first started budgeting, I used one Envelope for my house, one for necessities, and one for extras. Now, I have 10 Envelopes to cover everything I buy through this Envelope Budgeting System.

The EEBA app helped me to understand that I need to spend less money on extras and dining out. You can quickly add Envelopes using the EEBA app to help you stay on budget. Use all of the Envelopes you think you might need when you start using the Easy Envelope Budget Aid, and don’t hesitate to add more as you need them.

Read more

FAQ: How to Start In the Middle of the Month

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

The best time to start a budget is now. Whether you’re just tracking your expenses, budgeting off your income, or using Accounts in EEBA to manage every dollar, you can get started with EEBA today. Read on to learn how.

I just want to track my expenses in EEBA.

Start by creating your Envelopes and then funding them on the Add Money / Receive Income page. You can fund your Envelopes to full, or fund them partially based on when you’re starting in the month. For example, if you’re starting half-way through the month you could fund your Envelopes to half their budgeted amount.

As you record transactions you’ll be able to track your expenses in EEBA. When the month ends, fund your Envelopes again to start the new month.

I want to budget off my income.

For budgets based off income, it’s best to start from your last paycheck.

  • Start by creating your Envelopes to represent your budget.
  • Then, head to the Add Money / Receive Income page and choose “Specify” to fund your Envelopes from your last paycheck.
  • Finally, record the transactions that have happened since your last paycheck, and continue to record transactions as the month goes on.

Read more

How To Talk About Budgeting

Anyone who’s tried, knows. Sitting down to talk about money can be stressful. Whether it’s a spouse, a child, a dependent parent, or even a roommate, our lives –and our money– are interwoven with those around us, and with that comes conflict. We enter conversations about money with the best of intentions, but often leave frustrated or even resentful.

Read more

Tailor Your Budget So It Fits Just Right

You followed Steve’s advice for how to make a budget. Then you tracked your expenses in Goodbudget for a month. Or maybe even longer. Great job! So why does it feel like something’s not quite right?

Maybe you’ve noticed an Envelope that’s often in the red. You know which one I’m talking about… Or maybe you have an Envelope that always has extra green. No worries. Budgets are a bit like clothes. Sometimes they fit well — and sometimes they don’t. Most budgets need some tailoring before they fit just right. Here’s how you can tailor yours with Goodbudget.

Step 1. Look in the Mirror

Pull up the Spending vs Budget Report on the web and assess how you’re doing. Is there an Envelope where you’ve been spending over budget (the orange bar is longer than the green bar)? Or under budget by a lot (a really short orange bar)? Pick just a couple to start. In my household, we were over in Utilities (by almost double!), and under in Household Items (only half!).

Read more

FAQ: How do I group my Envelopes? How does that help?

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

Q: How do I group my Envelopes? How does that help?

It’s quite simple to group your Envelopes.  When you name your Envelopes via Edit Budgets, use colons “:” — like Food: Eating Out and Food: Groceries. On the web, your Envelopes Overview and Reports will group these together. You’ll see whether you’re on track in each Envelope and also how you’re doing with the whole Envelope group.

Which Envelopes should I group together?

Well, that depends on what you want. If you have a lot of bills (cell phone, power, water, trash, cable, etc.), you might be getting a report that shows all your bills separately, like this:

To see how much you spent on all your bills together, while still tracking cell phone, water, and power separately, name your Envelopes like this:

Read more

Don’t Budget Like a Dieter

Spent too much on Christmas shopping? New Year’s Resolution: Spend less!

Ate too many holiday sweets and savory treats? New Year’s Resolution: Eat less!

But wait… we all know where the belt-tightening road leads. You tell yourself “no, no, no…” every time you see something fun you’d like to buy or something special you’d like to eat. And at some point you break. You just can’t handle all those “no’s” any more. So you binge — you go on a shopping spree and break the bank, or you eat a huge juicy burger and break your diet.

But what are you really after? Is it to follow a strict diet and lose the proverbial 10 pounds? That could be really oppressive. Or is it simply to be healthier? Probably, yes. In that case, why not start saying “yes” to all the delicious healthy things you can eat?

Read more

FAQ: What’s that line on my Envelope bar?

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

What is that? And how can it help me keep a budget?

On Android and iPhone, your Envelopes are represented by a green bar with a line that crosses through it. The green bar represents the funds you have left in each Envelope. When the Envelope is full, the bar will be fully green. As you spend out of the Envelope, the green bar will decrease to the left.

The line represents where you would be if you were “on budget.” For example, the Eating Out Envelope above has a budget of $120, and is five days into a monthly budgeting period. Assuming there are 30 days this month, that budget of $120 works out to about $4 a day (120/30 = 4). So, five days into the month the line would show where the green bar would be if you spent exactly $20 (4 x 5 = 20).

Read more