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Developing a Budget

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Think about your lifestyle

As you begin your budget, the first question you will be asked is what county you live in. California CareerZone will use your response to determine costs in that area when it is possible to do so. You can also enter your zipcode and the system will automatically select the correct county. Once you select an area, you will be asked nine questions about various aspects of your desired lifestyle. Those questions will touch on a variety of items as detailed below.


The first aspect of the budget is what type of place you will want to live in? There are several options you can choose ranging from living with friends or family to owning a house. As you click on the various options, the cost will appear in the box on the right. The price displayed is the average cost for the area so your actual expense may be different. If you know how much you will pay each month, you can enter it in the Monthly Cost box.


Once you've decided where you are going to live, you'll need to make some decisions about the services you will have in your place. Power, water, and telephone are some of the expenses that go along with having a place. On this page you will have the option to check off the boxes for the utilities you will want to have.


This section will ask you to think about how you want to feed yourself. The options will ask you to choose from eating the basics at home to dining out regularly in nice restaurants. California CareerZone will provide you the average costs, however since yours may be higher or lower, you can enter an adjusted amount in the Monthly Cost box if desired.


How do you want to spend your time? A lot of options for entertainment cost money, like concerts, movies and shows. How often you go out affects how much you spend. In this section you'll be asked to choose from several options about what type of activities you like and how often you do them. If none of the options seem right, you can enter a different amount in the Monthly Cost box.


This section will ask you to think about your clothing costs. What type of clothes will you buy and how often will you buy them? The options presented will give you a few scenarios that people may typically purchase.

Remember that this is just a guide and that some options like designer fashion can be super expensive. Depending on the label, it can cost a whole lot of money. Those prices aren't really factored in to the options presented. If you are planning on purchasing the latest trends, you'll want to think about how much you would spend in a year on clothes and enter that number, divided by 12, in the Monthly Cost box.


The transportation section will ask you to think about how you are going to get around. Will you own a car, take the bus or train, or even ride your bike? Select the option that best describes the transportation you will utilize or, if you know how much your transportation will cost each month, enter that amount in the Monthly Cost box.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is an option that a lot of people don't think to budget for, but can consume a sizable amount of money each month. California CareerZone presents several options that people typically utilize including not having insurance, having their company subsidize their insurance, and paying for coverage yourself.

As you go through this section remember, choosing the no insurance option will save you money up front but will leave you personally liable for any medical expenses you incur, and medical bills can add up quickly.


Many jobs require education beyond high school and attending a college or specialized provider for training costs money. If you plan on furthering your education, you'll need to consider how you will pay for that. If you have a lot of savings or generous family members, you may avoid having any debt. Likewise, if you qualify for a full scholarship you may avoid or significantly limit the cost. However, most people will end up having to borrow a significant portion of the cost of their education. If yours costs aren't covered, you will most likely be taking out loans and you'll need to factor the cost of paying them back in to your budget.

The options presented on this screen represent the average costs for attending public and private schools in your state as well as options that include the average amount of financial aid received.

If you know what school you want to attend, you can start from a college profile and click on the What Will It Cost Me? link to visit The Cost of College where you can enter some information on your financial aid and loans to come up with a more specific cost. Then click the Budget What's Leftover button to have that automatically populate the budget.


The final round of questions will help you determine how much you want to save. The choices are presented with options that represent a percentage of how much you have chosen to spend each month. The options range from saving nothing to saving up to 50% of what you spend. As in the previous rounds you can enter any amount you would like in the Monthly Cost box.

You will notice that the savings is not a percentage of what you will make, but rather how much you have spent. Since the salary of each of the potential occupations varies, as will your actual salary, the system would not have a number to calculate a percentage from. Because of this, the percentages listed will actually correspond to a lesser percentage of your total salary.