Starting a budget is a useful skill that can help anyone. Be it an adult balancing the books or a fresh grad just learning how to pay bills, or even a young teenager saving up for a new gizmo, budgeting can help anyone in any stages of their lives.

In my case, my parents had the concept of ‘the earlier the better’. They started when I was young, giving me a weekly allowance and free reign as to how I’d spend it. Of course, it came with a few rules: academic expenses would be discussed and everything else would be my responsibility to scrounge up funds for. From there, I grew to be more wary of money; being no stranger to the burden of finance.

In a general case, it’s never too late to learn to budget. By becoming more aware of financial responsibility you are given the opportunity to be self-reliant. You can learn to be more independent.

The basics to saving are simple and when applied, can easily help lift a lot of financial tension.

Lesson Number 1: Understand your goal

Before anything else, you have to know your entire aim for budgeting. It isn’t just about knowing how much you’re earning, and how much you’re spending in a month. That’s just a glorified log book. A budget’s goal is to lower your frivolous spending and also, to bring into focus the priorities that you should be spending money on.

Keeping that goal in mind, there are several methods to budgeting mentioned below that you could try and see what fits you best.

Lesson Number 2: Keep tabs on what you spend your money on

Don’t throw away your receipts!

Reason is, before you can start saving money on a regular basis, you have to figure out how much you spend on a regular basis. Keep tabs on all of your expenses- that means every coffee, snack or even book you buy. Easy method to do this is to hoard all the receipts. Then, at the end of a specific time period, you can categorize and tally the amount for each category.

This can be an eye opener, and really bring things to focus. You’ll see where and what you spend your money on a month. You’ll also get to really know how the little things can take a toll over time. That café you get a sandwich from each morning? Or that innocent weekly movie date? Yeah, it definitely racks up the expenses.

Lesson 3: Get It Sorted

Now that you have an idea on your monthly spending, you can now start to plan your budget. The budget should include your monthly expenses, your monthly income and the difference between them. From these you can start to plan your spending and place a limit on it to prevent over-spending.

Remember: When planning your budget, also include other non-monthly expenses that happen regularly. An example of this would car maintenance. As car maintenance services happen about once a year, you can allocate a certain fund for it each month. (So you won’t have to break into your piggy bank every year.)

Other than that, your budget should also include ‘savings’ of at least 10% of your income. If your expenses are so high that you can’t save that much, then you’re going to have to cut back on them. Reduce the non-essentials that you can spend less on such as dining out or your daily coffee from Starbucks every morning.

Lesson 4: Always Ensure You Set Aside Some Money for Your Savings

The whole point of budgeting is to save money.

No matter the circumstance, always ensure that you have some to save. It might get tempting, because we’ve all heard of the term ‘you can’t bring money to the grave’ but I know from personal experience that it’s better to save for a rainy day than to get caught in a thunderstorm with no shelter.

So, instead of keeping your savings as the last thing you do each month,  you can easily just put your money in your saving account first, before anything else. That way you can ensure you don’t accidentally spend the allocated ‘saving’ part of your income.