Secrets to creating a budget

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You’d never set out on a cross-country road trip without consulting a map. Likewise, you can’t expect to reach your financial goals without developing a plan for spending and saving.

Budgets play a critical role in helping consumers pay off debt, build their nest egg and make the most of their hard-earned dollars.

Yet, despite their best intentions, many Americans lack the money-management skills necessary to get their bank accounts under control. Why? Often, it’s because they don’t know where they stand, says Jim Tehan, a spokesman for Myvesta Foundation, a self-help consumer education website.

“People write out budgets all the time without knowing where their money is really going,” he says. “What they’ve created is a wish list of how they’d like to spend their money, but it’s not realistic. It’s a page of lies.”