Make Your Own Personal Budget: Articles, Tips, & Resources

making a personal budget

I have written quite a bit about budgeting over the last few years since making a personal budget was one of the keys to getting my finances under control.

Just like most people, I always hated the idea of budgeting, but once you get a better understanding of the freedom that comes with using a budget you fall in love with it. Or at least I have. 😉

Budgeting can be fun!

The thing I regularly finding myself telling people is that  budgeting is not necessarily a restrictive task. It isn’t all about telling yourself “NO” all the time. In fact, as Linda and I have become better at budgeting, we find that it allows us to tell ourselves “Yes” many times when our natural inclination would be to not do something.

For example, before we had a budget set up, all our money was in one big pot, so if we bought a new lamp for our living room, it meant that we were going to have less money for groceries, or to fill our gas tank up. As a result we never really made purchases like this. It just felt foolish to buy something we didn’t NEED when we weren’t sure we’d have enough money to cover the things we did need.

Interestingly, after creating our budgeting, and separating all those NEED-based expenses from the nice-to-have expenses, it really changed the game. Now we budget money each month for house decorations. It is a pretty good feeling to be in the mall and see a picture that would go great in our bedroom and be able to say “Yes” knowing that it isn’t taking groceries off the table.

Now just to be clear, we do still have to tell ourselves “No” – if that picture was more than we had budgeted, we would tell ourselves “No” until we had saved enough for it. And to be honest, when we started budgeting, we didn’t really have enough money coming in to budget for a lot of “fun” things like that. It was mostly important stuff like bills. 😉

The sacrifices are only temporary!

But it is important to remember that financial sacrifices you make are almost always temporary. Most of us get ourselves in financial messes and have to dig ourselves out of them. Once you are out of it, things are a bit easier to maintain.

It’s similar to losing weight: it is easy to gain weight, requires only a little effort to maintain your weight, and takes a lot of effort to lose weight. Financially, it is easy to get ourselves in debt, requires some effort to only spend what you earn, and it takes a lot of sacrifice to get out of debt.

Recommended articles about budgeting

So with that, I will leave you with a bunch of articles to get you started creating your own personal budget!

For those with an Irregular Income

Recommended books and resources for budgeting

Recommended budgeting software

Let me first say that purchasing software is not necessary to create and maintain an effective budget. There are many people who use a pen & paper budget, the good old envelope system, or an excel spreadsheet and do just fine.

However, after having spent some time with the software options below, I can understand why people might want to use them. If used properly they can make the budgeting process a lot simpler and easier to maintain. So if you do try any of the options below, I suggest taking advance of their free-trial offers to make sure that it is a system that will work for you.

Or you might want to check out ( Review). They are exactly a budgeting tool per-se, but they are a free money management tool that may suit your needs.

Name Price Notes
Mvelopes online budgeting software As little as $7.40 /month Mvelopes is the budgeting system created by Crown Ministries. It is based on traditional envelope budgeting where you divide your paycheck among envelopes designated for specific spending categories such as groceries, food and entertainment. Using these envelopes you can easily create a budget or spending plan that provides you with daily, up-to-date balance information for each spending category. You can proactively manage your spending as you build up envelope balances for upcoming expenses, and easily see how much money you have left to spend in each category, and how long it has to last. I currently use Mvelopes and really like it. You can find out more in our Mvelopes Review.
YNAB budgeting software $59.99 YNAB3 is budgeting and money management software that also allows you to budget using “virutal” envelopes. The YNAB team has been constantly working to improve the software and it shows. The newest version (YNAB3) has been getting great reviews from the users and the press alike. YNAB’s ability to make budgeting much easier and fun makes it an easy product to recommend.
Pear Budget online budgeting tool $3.00
PearBudget is a lesser known online budgeting tool that is worthy of mentioning. They aren’t as feature-rich as the other two, but that could be by design. They market themselves as “a really simple budgeting and expense tracking service.” They are quite a bit cheaper than Mvelopes and may or may not be cheaper than YNAB (depending on how long you use it).

Do you have any advice for those new to budgeting? Or budgeting tools that you love?


  1. I like this article and am crazy about budgeting. You made a very key point about separating the NEED-based expenses from the nice-to-have expenses. For people getting out of debt, this is a lifeline.

  2. Another great budgeting app is NeoBudget. It’s a much more affordable alternative to some of the ones listed here, and I think it’s better. But of course I may be bias since I created it. :)

  3. “But it is important to remember that financial sacrifices you make are almost always temporary.”

    So true! It’s almost like you need to stop what you’re doing and move from behind your budget to in front of it–like an adult “time out”!

  4. The first piece of advice that comes to mind is “don’t be afraid to mess up”. You first budget isn’t going to be perfect, nor your second… It take some trial and error to start getting it right, but that’s ok. You’re learning a new skill, and that takes some effort and time to do.

    It’s an amazing feeling to go on vacation, buy something at the store, give a gift, and know that it’s paid for and you don’t have to worry about a check bouncing or a credit card bill at the end of the month. Enjoy the freedom a budget gives you!

  5. totally agree with Matthew above – getting started is more important than getting it right the first time around. it’s amazing how far my wife and i have come along since we started seriously taking responsibility of our finances 2 years ago.

    i still like even though they were bought by the big Quicken monster, Intuit. it allows me to effortlessly track my spending, income, and investments and unlike some of the other software – it’s FREE!

  6. That’s fine, but what if you really don’t have much money left over after you pay your debt?

    • Victoria

      You might want to look at ways to increase your income. This website offers some great ideas.

    • May want to look into down sizing monthly expenses…shop around for better monthly bill rates for entertainment/phone bills etc. see if you can live without a few things that are luxury vs necessity (your life depends on it) maybe even take a course on how to conserve energy and water and gas to lower your monthly bills…if rent or house payment is the issue maybe search for a better rate for a loan and pay it off (mortgage) if rent see what else is out there that’s lower monthly rent and depending on your lease…what would be penalty of breaking lease see it out weighs the money saved when and if you rent from new place…there are corners than can be cut it may not seem like much difference but it adds up…good luck!

  7. Creating a budget and estimating expenses is never perfect the first time. You’ll need to go through a few iterations. The most important part of budgeting is the sister skill of tracking your expenses. If you’re tracking your expenses, either on paper or in software, you can see how you’re doing and have the visibility to say “no” or “yes” (as Bob puts it) :) . I agree that it can be fun and liberating!

  8. Hey,
    I like the way you describe the budget like a big pot. If people understood it the way you described, they’d have a much easier time being disciplined. You’re right about not being able to justify certain purchases. We’re in that boat right now. We’ve got the income coming in okay, but there’s some catch up work we need to do from before we were taking advantage of tips on budgeting that we were avoiding to implement in our personal finances.


  9. Elizabeth I

    For us, having separate accounts has been huge, especially with necessary categories like clothing, child care and food. Having *realistic* budgets has enabled us to really know what money we can put aside for savings and what money can be spent. I has really taken the stress out of clothing shopping….in the past, purchasing needed items, but feeling guilty that money was being spent. I will say that it has been a hassle to chart every grocery store purchase…sometimes 10-15 entries a month, but it has kept the budget in check.

  10. Really impressed with how simple Pear Budget is. If there is anyone else out there like me who doesn’t like graphs, equations, or . . . uh oh . . . EXCEL 😉 Then definitely check this one out! thanks Bob

  11. Bob- another great article, complete with keeping things in proper perspective

  12. Hi,
    Thank you so much for providing such useful resources. I find the pear budget to be quiet simple myself and I agree with Paul, its perfect for those that don’t like graphs and equations.

  13. easy
    11 months income for 13 months expenses it allows all the bills to be paid regardless of incomes nor intelligence.

    IGNORE due dates have all bills for the month paid by or on the first, goal should be to have the money by the previous month day 20-25.

    this is just the start to successfuly money management.
    I am an accountant and use this in helping families and businesses with financial planning IT WORKS for anyone and everyone regardless of income or wealth. It only requires a paychk and calendar to computers or anything fancy

  14. Thanks for the tools bob.

  15. Love the post, probably the best “one-stop” page for anything budgeting for those who are new to it and even the veterans. I love the opening of this blog, how it describes that a budget isn’t only something to restrict your spending but a way to allow you to enjoy more of life… so, so true.

  16. I really like your website, the articles are always informative and helpful, with the right personal touch added to them. I’m not a big fan of budgeting and expense tracking, but I regard this as my daily homework: something I don’t like but have to do anyway. And to make the job easier I’ve been looking for a personal finance software that will make the entire budget planning process as hassle-free as possible. I’m still using InEx Finance and it seems like an optimal tool for me: it has everything I need in order to know where my money is being spent without making things complicated or hard to grasp.

  17. Thank You so much on your articles on How To Save Money. I am a newbie at Couponing and I started working on a budget. I am able to save my family (me and two toddlers) so much. I am a frequent flyer on your blog and everytime I log on, I find something new that I really enjoy. Thanks Again!
    Best Wishes and Have a BLESSED THANKSGIVING!
    Sarah from Illinois

  18. Bob, I am looking for a christian financial counseling service that won’t charge an arm and a leg and one that is use to working with families that are dealing with devastating illness diagnosis of the primary bread winner. We are in this situation and are not sure what to do. My husband is a commission only salesman and it was feast in the summer and famine in the winter. It always took everything we made in the summer to pay back what we had to borrow in the winter to survive. I have been caregiver to my mother with Alzheimers for the last four years, and now to my dad of 88 and my husband with stage 4 cancer. It is very hard to find a job willing to work around the needs of my family. We do get dissability income from insurance, but it is only 60% of his regular pay. It barely pays the bills, much less medicines, gas and groceries. We have started a new business, but I do not expect it to take off strong for at least two years. The intention was to become passive income before he retired. I am 50 and my husband is 58. The diagnosis itself has been devastating, but the loss in income on top of everything has been even more. He has been released by his doctors to go back to work, but his boss says no. We are in this terrible limbo and don’t know what to do. We lean on the lord and don’t know how people make it in this world without a relationship with Him. I have never seen a financial planning company that specializes in dealing with illness related loss of income and was hoping you might have some insight. Thank you for your time. Lori