We are all feeling the pain of not being able to spend money on our luxuries that we have long become accustom to. No matter the size of your debt or the size of your paycheck, there are a few simple ways to ensure you can still have fun and be on time with your necessities.

1. To begin, you must make a comprehensive list of all of your expenses. Everything from gas to groceries, to electricity and water. All of the monthly items that are most often unchanged and expected, write them down in detail and be accurate. It is best to do this number by the month, although if you have items paid in increments such as car insurance each six months, make sure to divide and get the monthly amount to add in your total figure.

2. The next subject to evaluate is your income. You must do this carefully for this plan to work properly. Begin with your yearly net income. It must be take home pay, and it needs to be yearly to be evaluated correctly. Include all sources of income, child support, spouse income, bonus pay — if it is consistent and reliable. This total figure for the entire year will now need to be divided by 52. This is the amount that you average over each individual week. This number is then multiplied by 4.34. This is the average number of weeks per month. That number needs to be wrote down alongside your monthly expense number.

3. This is an example of what we have done thus far. Say your entire net income is a total of $50,000. This is after taxes and with all income included. Your calculated net income for each month will come to $4173. Your expenses per month come to $2960, and this includes everything that is needed, not wanted like eating out or new shoes. With these numbers, you can now move on in the evaluation.

4. This is the tricky part. Say you get paid every other week, and for the sake of the example, we will say it is salary just to keep everything even. Your net paycheck every two weeks will come to $1923 with a net income of $50,000 a year. Now you must divide your expenses per month by the number of times you receive pay, this will allow you to know the amount that is required of each paycheck to cover your monthly expenses. With monthly expenses at $2960 divided by 2, you must put back $1480 of your $1923 every two weeks.

5. The good part! With these example figures, you can save or spend $443 every two weeks of your income and comfortable afford your necessities and now, your luxuries. The smartest way to leave your bill money untouched is to only deposit the amount needed into your account and put the rest, the money for spending, into a separate account. Never use the essential account unless you are paying bills. If the other account runs dry, then you can’t go out to dinner!

If you happen to be ahead, that is great! Although, if you are behind on some bills, factor that in and keep less for spending and more for the essential account. Have fun with your finances, and with a little math, you can be happy every day of your life!