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7
Make a Budget -- And Stick to It
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Now that you've eliminated certain mental obstacles that keep you financially stressed out, you're ready to educate yourself about real solutions to financial stress. There are four basics to revamping your financial life: Stick to a budget, cut expenses, reduce debt and start saving.

Budgeting isn't rocket science. In the simplest terms, you put your income at the top of the page, and from that number, you deduct your expenses. The amount left over is what you can spend on other things, such as reducing debt and increasing savings.

Having a written budget gives you confidence in your personal financial strategy, which can help you dramatically lower your financial stress level. There are literally hundreds of apps and tools you can use to create a budget -- from good old pen and paper to phone apps and desktop solutions. The Wall Street Journal recommends the following free online budgeting sites and financial networking tools: Mint.com, Geezeo.com and Wesabe.com [source: Banjo].

Even folks who acknowledge that budgeting is important, however, may find themselves slipping, rather than sticking to, a budget. Not only do unexpected expenses -- car repairs, price hikes and Cub Scout dues -- waylay us; we can also get sidetracked by fun things like invites to dinner, pit stops at Starbucks and "two for one" sales on items we may or may not need. Discover tools for cutting expenses on the next page.

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