4 Easy Steps to Creating a Budget

Not many people enjoy making a budget, but doing so really can improve your quality of life. While you might shy away from the idea, thinking of budgeting as just another name for living a joyless, austere lifestyle, it can actually be very freeing. When you know exactly how much money you have to spend, you can set things up so that you don’t have to think about your finances much at all. The steps below are not effortless, but they are not as difficult as you might imagine, and you can automate many elements once you have done the initial work.

Track Your Spending

There are basically two ways to track your spending: do it yourself, or have an app do it for you. The rest is just detail. If you do it on your own, you might save receipts, write down every purchase you make or try to exclusively use a debit or credit card so you have a record of your spending each month. Some people prefer this hands-on approach, but an app can do most of the work for you as well. Whatever method you choose, try to do it across three or four months so you can get a consistent sense of your monthly spending.

Look at the Data

If you hate budgeting, this will probably be the most painful part. You need to sit down and see where your spending is going and if you need to cut back anywhere in order to continue living within your means. If you’re looking to save more money, do a deep dive. Could you move to a cheaper place? Drive a cheaper vehicle? If you are paying back student loans, you might want to look into refinancing them with a private lender. Lower interest rates or a different payment plan can mean lower monthly payments. Once you have looked at ways to spend less, you might need to think of ways to bring in more income as well.

Set Your Goals

This could be paying off debt, saving for a down payment on a home, taking a vacation or anything else. If you don’t have any financial goals, here are two to get you started: start putting away money so that you have three to six months of savings in an emergency fund, and maximize contributions to your retirement account.

Make a Plan

As was the case with tracking your spending, you can make this as hands-on or as hands-off as you like. Whether you use a spreadsheet, envelopes full of different amounts of cash or an app, you need to decide how much you will spend in each category and stick to that limit. Some apps will warn you when you are getting close to your limit in certain categories. Whatever approach you choose, this is the set it and forget it part. Once you know exactly what you have to spend weekly or monthly on entertainment, for example, you don’t have to worry about whether you can afford this meal, that round of drinks or this full-price movie ticket. You can feel confident you are using your money exactly as you intend.

About the author

Gerald Dewes

Gerald Dewes is the editor of the 'Finance' section of Frankreport.com


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  • —My point to you, however, NiceGuy, is that without realizing it you were played as a pawn to make it appear that the harassment we were undergoing was — as you insisted — all the evil design of some horny, smart ass kid on FR named “Bangkok” — who happened to be my neighbor. Twice.

    —Given your computer acumen, your sincerity, etc., I was nearly convinced of it myself though the kid in question — were there one — would have had to have had NXIVM resources and data available to him. It could happen. Frank bought it, apparently. That or, IDK, Jeff Peterson suggested Dennis Burke? I always suspected my ex and caregivers after NXIVM itself. And have reason to believe NX influenced them both. Look at how easily you were used, NiceGuy, yourself.


    I don’t expect any response. I never check these kind of posts anyway. 😉

    Heidi is wonderful a person.

    My guess is she is suffering from a bipolar type illness. I am sure you have attempted to help her in the past.

    Clearly Bangkok is a kid in Heidi’s neighborhood and tipped his/her hand when she/he mentioned Heidi was camped out at her sons house.

    I hope Heidi gets help. No doubt you do not post all of her posts. You are a good person for not posting them.

    It’s a sad case.

    • So my point is……..

      For the love of God Frank, why did you post this latest crazy-ass post????

      Heidi needs help. Clearly. I know you probably can’t help her or have tried talking to her.

      My in-laws tried to have someone committed for his own good. Unfortunately, if the person acts normal for a day or so (depending on which state they’re in), they walk free.

      Is there anything that can be done? Rhetorical question.


      Life is such a motherfucker and yes I know you know.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato


Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
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