1. Advanced Budget-Cutting Strategies: Introduction
  2. Budget Tips: Plan for What You Really Make
  3. Budgeting Tips for Essential Fixed Spending
  4. Budgeting for Essential Variable Expenses
  5. Budgeting for Nice-to-Have Expenses
  6. A Budget That Changes as You Do

Once you've set up a budget and worked with it (see our tutorial Budgeting Basics for help) , it's time to think about how you can use your new control over your finances more effectively to reach your goals and take advantage of opportunities.

This tutorial is designed to help you master the finer points of budgeting and really get on top of your income and expenditures. Budgeting for essentials, for example, means recognizing that some are fixed (your monthly cell phone bill or car payment) and some are variable (groceries and the dentist). Then there are the nice-to-haves like clothes and travel that aren't essential at all.

Smart budgeting also means understanding after-tax income and other concepts that shape your finances. There's also information on how you can shape your budget to take advantage of positive developments like a raise or promotion; rethink it when you lose a big expense (you pay off your student loan or your last child graduates from college); and handle the financial blowback of life's inevitable down periods. 

Think of this stage of the process as a kind of budget boot camp because it's about facing up to the tough questions and crunching a whole lot of numbers. At least these are the kinds of crunches you can do sitting down at your desk.


Budget Tips: Plan for What You Really Make
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