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A Quick Guide to Crafting a Budget Plan

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This story appears in the July 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Everyone hates budgeting, but it's a necessary evil. I've tried many strategies for simplifying the process and putting together spending plans I can actually stick to. Here's something I've learned: When building any sort of , remember these rules.

Get Tracking. These web tools will help ease your budgeting pain. PearBudget is a simple budgeting and expense-tracking tool that costs $4.95 per month. Or, try the free downloadable spreadsheet version. NeoBudget is an online service for "envelope" accounting. There's a free version, but for $4 per month, you get more power. You Need a Budget isn't free: The desktop version costs (a potentially budget-breaking) $60. But those who use it swear by it. If you need top-of-the-line help, this is your best bet.

Forget perfection. A budget is simply a target. Your spending likely won't be perfect the first month (or the second, or the third). If you can't get your into perfect balance, get it as close as you can. Make adjustments as needed.

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