A yearly budget can help you set and reach financial goals. There are a variety of free and commercial tools available to help you with the budgeting process and track your financial progress over time. A budget can be a strong motivator when it comes to making better financial decisions. If you want to save for something special - whether it's a down payment for a new home or surfing lessons in Central America - you will likely have an easier time fending off impulse purchases and cutting back on unnecessary spending to reach your goal.

Remember, a budget is very personal. Yours will probably not look exactly like anyone else's. The key is to make it appropriate to your financial situation and goals, being realistic and flexible along the way.

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