Make a budget part of your goals for 2013

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Budgeting is a topic that’s front and center again for many Americans. Many people think of budgeting like being in prison, but I think it’s freeing. Budgeting lets you reduce your financial insecurity and gain control back. There are great, free budgeting tools online like Mint.com that I have used, as have some staffers on my show.

Meanwhile, a recent Journal of Consumer Research study shows that budgeting annually is better than doing it monthly. That’s because there are expenses that pop up over the course of a year that you can’t account for on a monthly budget. Data shows that people are far more accurate when they budget annually vs. monthly.

I don’t usually carry any debt, but I still use budgeting tools to see what happened with my money over the course of a year. My executive producer Christa, meanwhile, likes to track her finances using a spiral notebook and some online monitoring. Others like to go back to basics using the envelope method.

There’s no one right answer, but you have to find what works best for you. Do you have a system? Are you doing anything at all to monitor your money? Give it a try.

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