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Special Report

Morningstar's Guide to Budgeting

Tips, strategies, and worksheets for building a budget.

Setting up a budget is no one’s idea of fun. After all, we'd all like to spend what we make: The satisfaction of instant gratification trumps prudent long-term money management. And of course, budgeting requires trade-offs. That may mean buying a used car rather than the latest model off the showroom floor so you can pay off student loans sooner. Or foregoing that summer home so you can retire comfortably.

Morningstar.com director of personal finance Christine Benz says everyone--regardless of age, life stage, or income--needs a budget.

"The key point about a budget is that it helps ensure that your spending syncs up with your priorities," she notes.

In an effort to make the task less painful, we've pulled together some budgeting tips, strategies, and ideas, and we’ve even developed a budgeting worksheet you can use as a starting point.

3 Ways to Find Money in Your Budget to Invest
Set a savings target, adjust that target as your salary increases, and automate your contributions.

How to Create a Budget You Can Live With
We all need a budget, regardless of age, life stage, or whether we think we've 'made it' or not.

Morningstar's Budget Worksheet
Use our budget worksheet to get your spending and saving on track.

100 Ways to Cut Your Day-to-Day Expenses
If you're looking to save a few more dollars, these tips on cutting your grocery, utility, and personal-care bills, among others, are worth a look.

Sorry, You Probably Don't Have a Portfolio Emergency
What ails many portfolios--and what can fix them--is actually pretty mundane.