Your Income

When you budget, the first step is to determine how much regular income you have. That's what you can spend.

To figure your regular income:

  • Review your pay stubs to identify how much money you're taking home each month
  • List any other income you receive regularly, but for which you don't get a paycheck.
  • Add the two together

It's best not to include overtime pay, earnings from occasional extra jobs, gifts, or awards, since you can't count on having this money to spend. The smartest thing you can do when you get money in these ways is to add it to your savings. But it's okay to reward yourself once in a while with something you really want — or want to do. Just be sure you're not raiding your budget.


One solution if you regularly find yourself short on cash is to look for ways to increase your income. The challenge, of course, is the time working takes from your schedule. You may already have more things to do than you have time to do them.

More income also means you can save more for your big goals.
One of the major benefits of a college education is the potential to earn more than you would earn with just a high school diploma.