Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
New year, new budget.
If you’re finally ready for a total money makeover, maintaining a budget is an excellent way to start.
Budgets help you manage money by not only keeping tabs on your cash flow, but also pushing you to take action on goals that ensure financial freedom and long-term financial stability.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered some of our best budgeting advice to improve your personal finances, from handy templates to personal finance books. Here are the best of recent budgeting lessons.
1. Use a Free Budgeting Template
Wouldn’t it be great if someone handed you a one-page financial plan that instantly helped manage money better?
While we don’t claim to be a personal finance fairy, you can use one of our six free budget templates to start planning your own rags-to-riches Cinderella story.
If the sight of a spreadsheet makes you break out in a cold sweat, never fear. There’s an app for that. See our recommendations for the five best budgeting apps.
2. Save Money Every Month With the 70/20/10 Budget
The 70/20/10 budget is a percentage-based money management system in which you earmark 70% of your take-home pay toward monthly expenses, 20% for saving and investing and 10% for extra debt payments or donating.
It’s a good budget to implement if you’re working toward savings goals and want to be more intentional about putting money aside each month.
If you’re not a fan of the 70/20/10 budget, try one of these other budgeting methods.
3. Lean Into Budget Billing to Level Your Utility Payments
You’re cruising along with cash to spare and then — wham! You get blindsided by a huge gas bill after that November cold snap.
Paying monthly bills can get chaotic when unexpected seasonal spikes occur, but budget billing options from utility providers level the field.
See how it works, who offers budget billing plans and what the advantages (and disadvantages) are to signing up for a more stable monthly utility bill.
4. Get a Financial Plan — a FREE One
Financial planning is only for the rich, right? Wrong!
Anasova is an AI-powered tool that asks questions about your finances and lifestyle to build a totally personalized financial plan for your specific needs.
To get your own in-depth plan, it takes less than 10 minutes to answer some (totally anonymous) questions about what you do with your money, then you’ll get a personalized PDF to guide you.
5. Master Your Finances With the Best Budgeting Books
Need to expand your money knowledge? Check out the best personal finance books that promote financial freedom, from Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover” to “Napkin Finance” by personal finance writer Tina Hay.
And if you’re considering investing for greater financial security, see our recommendations for the nine best investing books you should read to get started on the road to financial success.
6. Talk About Money With Your Partner
Talking about personal finance isn’t the most romantic conversation, but it’s absolutely essential for a healthy relationship.
Here are the questions you should ask your partner, which financial decisions you should keep discussing to build financial stability, and how to build a budget together that’ll make your household more harmonious.
7. Ditch One-Size-Fits-All Budgets and Try Budget-By-Paycheck
It’s tempting to look at a failure to budget and assume it’s simply a failure to commit. But sometimes, the problem isn’t you. It’s the budgeting method.
Try customizing a personal finance approach with several different budgets, such as the budget-by-paycheck method.
This approach combines some of the best elements of calendar budgets, zero-based budgeting and the cash envelope system into one workable framework to jump-start your best financial life.
8. Plan for Your Big Day by Creating a Wedding Budget
It’s easy to get caught up in all the darling details of planning a wedding — and then get overwhelmed when tallying up all the costs.
Take a proactive approach to wedding planning by creating a wedding budget upfront and account for all the expenses of your big day.
9. Consider Zero-Based Budgeting
Living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t sound like the picture of financial stability, but this budgeting approach turns that notion inside out.
Zero-based budgeting combined with a well-stocked emergency fund can make the race to zero a viable way to manage money and build wealth.
10. Take Our Quiz to Find Out Which Budgeting Method Is Right for You
Not all budgeting methods are created equal. Some methods of managing your personal finances just aren’t suited to certain lifestyles, personalities or financial situations.
Figure out which budget is a good fit for you with our personalized quiz that matches your preferences with popular budgeting methods. Don’t worry — there is a method that fits your financial madness.
Whether it’s a personal finance book or a one-week budget plan, our best budgeting lessons and practical advice are here to guide you on the road to financial independence and a wealthier financial future.