The top features all successful budgets have la gas

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Don’t forget to take out taxes and other deductions (like contributions to your employer’s 401(k)). If you have irregular income, you may consider basing your monthly budget on the average you make each month. 4. Categories for Irregular Expenses

When creating a budget, it’s easy to get stuck in the monthly mindset, but don’t forget to include those expenses that may only come around once a quarter, twice a year or even once a year. For example, you may pay your car insurance every six months, while your homeowners’ association fees are due annually. To ensure that you account for those expenses accurately, annualize the number, then divide by 12. Build that amount into your monthly budget and set it aside in a separate account so you can pay those expenses when they’re due. 5. A Line Item for Savings

Savings is something no budget should be without. Your budget should treat savings like an expense, not just as what happens with the "leftover" or surplus cash, if there is any. In treating savings like an expense, you ensure that you’re contributing money wherever it is most needed. For example, you can have a line item for general savings as well as a category for your emergency fund or savings for a down payment on a home.

While you don’t have to track every dollar you spend down to the penny, you should try to accurately account for cash spending. Cash spending can easily become the biggest leak in most budgets. Cash disappears quickly and if you don’t write down everything you spend it on, you’ll have a distorted look at your spending and where your money goes. 7. Realistic Written Goals

This one is a big one, and it’s not a part of most personal budgets. While written financial goals aren’t a required piece of a budget and aren’t included on most budget worksheets, they’re an extremely important piece financial planning. By setting realistic goals like saving for a home, buying a new car, getting out of debt, saving for retirement, putting your kids through college or even having a travel budget, you can begin to find ways to save for those goals and track how close you are to meeting them.

Most of these features for a successful budget are things that should be included in the budget itself. But, there are also exercises and practices that go along with creating and maintaining a budget. One of those practices is regular review.

Your budget isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. You should be reviewing your budget and actual spending at least monthly so you can track your progress and make adjustments if necessary. Life changes can increase or reduce your spending and income and regularly reviewing your budget ensures that your hard-earned dollars don’t fall through the cracks. 9. The Right Mindset

Last, but not least, all successful budgeters approach their budgets with the right mindset. While it may be tempting to view your budget as being restrictive, it’s actually a way to gain control over your money so you can tell your paycheck what to do, instead of the other way around. Budgeting can be a difficult and even a stressful exercise, but it is necessary for financial success. By adopting a positive mindset towards budgeting and staying motivated, you can be well on your way to achieving financial security through budgeting.