What to Expect in Your First 3 Months of Budgeting

When it comes to budgeting, we’ve all wondered, Am I doing this right?

Well, you can stop second-guessing. The fact that you’re budgeting at all means you’re doing it right! It usually takes people about three months to feel confident in this new skill.

So relax. You’ll get there too.

If you’re brand new to budgeting, we’re here to help. Here’s what to expect (and where to focus) during your first few months with your EveryDollar budget.

Your First 30 Days

The Goal: This month is simply about getting used to budgeting. So take the pressure off yourself to be perfect! Just start the habit.

The Focus: Make your budget, then focus on sticking to it by tracking your transactions. It’s okay if your water bill turns out to be a little higher or lower than you expected. It happens. Just adjust another category (like clothing money or movie tickets) to keep your budget in check.

The Hint: Try a free trial of EveryDollar Plus to make tracking your transaction effortless. We’ll connect to your bank account and upload all your purchases and payments. That way, you don’t have to rely on receipts or your memory!

The First 60 Days

The Goal: It’s time to learn from last month. Now that you’ve been tracking your spending for 30 days, you can rely on hard data rather than best guesses to make your next money plan.

The Focus: Look at the categories you over- or underspent on last month. Do you need to up your planned amount on groceries or find ways to lower your caramel latte money? Make a few tweaks and see how they hold up to reality.

The Hint: Maybe your Miscellaneous category lumped everything from a dentist copay to teeth whitening strips together. If you find that your “catchall” category includes too much, create breakout categories labeled Copays or Toiletries. There’s no limit to your line items.

First 90 Days

The Goal: You’ve tracked and tweaked your budget. Now it’s time to evaluate how you’re spending your money. In other words, it’s time to start shaping your budget around your goals.

The Focus: Do you want to pay down debt? Save for vacation? Invest more for retirement? Play around with your budget, starting from highest priority to lowest. For example, start with giving, then saving, then necessities, then wants. This should help you reach your goals faster by focusing more money where you want it.

The Hint: Look for places you can save even more money—like renegotiating your insurance premiums or shopping mostly generics. Once you start looking, you’ll probably find more ways to save than you expected!

When you’re prepared for the month ahead, managing your money becomes way less stressful. And if your budget gets off track, no big deal. Simply refocus and keep moving forward. You’re still way ahead of the curve, trust us!

Plus, your EveryDollar budget should only take about 10 minutes to create! How great is that? That means more time—and more money—for whatever you want.