Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a magic formula or one easy trick that made it so you never had to worry about money again? If you’re tired of feeling stressed out about money it’s time to get a hold on your personal finances.

The realization of being broke at the end of the month is nothing short of a nightmare. You will be unable to do anything except to contemplate about where all the money went.

Here are a few things that can help you get control of your finances. Follow these steps, and your financial problems will start to lessen.

Start with your income.

Wait, why don’t I start with expenses? Isn’t that what we’re trying to keep track of? Yes, but if you start with expenses you don’t know how much you have to actually spend.

Use a year instead of a month, as people may have fluctuating income. Such as, commissions or bonuses, or may work in seasonal industries.

Also, don’t forget, this is money you get to take home. Taxes don’t count.

Next, go to expenses.

How much do you spend in a given year? While fixed expenses remain constant (mortgage or car payment), our monthly variable spending can vary. For example, the average person will spend more on gifts in December than in February.

Write down everything you spend on – groceries, clothes, a new leash for Max. All these things add up, and you should know how much they cost. This may even take you a couple of months to get a good handle on. That’s OK, be patient and diligent.

Now, do you have enough income to cover expenses with some left over? If so, great! If not, see where you can cut. If you don’t have any money going into savings, you’ll need to figure out a way to do this.

Set concrete goals for saving.

Write specific goals about what you want to do with your life and your money. Finances can affect many different areas of your life. Your goal to travel the world affects how you will plan your finances. Your goal to retire early is dependent on how well you handle your finances now.

Ensure you are paying attention to the ones that are most important to you. You can also list them in the order you want to achieve them. As you work on goals like saving for retirement, you should do this, while working on your other goals.

Create a Plan

A financial plan is essential in helping you reach your financial goals. A sample plan would include getting control of your budget. Creating a spending plan, should include getting out of debt.

Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ve freed up some major cash. The money you free up from your debt payments can help in reaching your goals.

Don’t let yourself put off changing your financial habits. If you say you’ll start next month, chances are you’ll find a reason to put it off again. The cycle of procrastination can be dangerous, so don’t let yourself fall into it at all.

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