For many people, creating a budget can be a boring, stressful, or confusing enterprise. Even if you know you need a better handle on your finances, figuring out where to start — for the first time, or after years of missteps — is often intimidating.
Instead thinking of a budget as a system of setting up horrible restrictions, reframe the point of doing them in the first place: Everyone needs money to live, and in the best possible cases, it also helps you to thrive and enjoy life — but that can require planning. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all budget based on other people's priorities, think about what your priorities are, and how you can work toward them with what you have.
"The first question you should really ask yourself is: What do you want out of your financial future?" says Ariel Anderson Fortunato, a certified financial planner at the Society of Grownups. "Having that mentality can be more motivating than a goal that’s as lofty as, I just want to save more money, and with that in mind, you can start to think about what you're budgeting for."
Here are her tips for budgeting with intention and purpose — in a way that works for you.