Make a Budget Worksheet
If you make your own budget worksheet, here’s what to do. Grab a pen and paper, or use a computer spreadsheet program. Think of your budget in terms of two things: money and time. Money, of course, is divided into its own two categories: Income and Expenses.
Follow these steps to make your budget worksheet:
1.a. List your income in a vertical column down the left side of the page. Think of all the sources of income (including paychecks and interest) that you receive. Also, consider how often this income becomes available to you. For example, are you paid weekly or every other week?
b. List your expenses below your income in that same column. Begin with major expenses such as a car payment, car insurance, food (including school lunches), clothing, and entertainment. Include all expenses, whether you pay in the form of a check, cash, credit card, or the amount is deducted from your credit union account. Remember to include any finance charges, such as interest on your auto loan.
2. List the related timeframes in a row across the top of the page. For instance, does the expense or income occur weekly, per paycheck, monthly, quarterly, or yearly? Is the expense tax-deductible? If so, add a heading for this in your horizontal row.
When you are finished you should have the beginning of a grid or chart. Use this as a worksheet to help you categorize and plan. When you first start using your budget worksheet, you might find change it often. That’s good! Your worksheet should be a working document.
3. Add anticipated expenses to your “skeleton” worksheet. Are you planning to go to college or participate in a wedding (as either a bridesmaid or a groomsman)? All of these require that you spend a lot of money.
Hint: Anticipate that you will have to spend more than you’d prefer, and budget accordingly. Better to be prepared than shocked.
You can also consider anticipated sources of income, such as the yearly birthday check from your Aunt Mildred. Be careful, though; don’t spend the money before you have it.
4. Don’t forget the “small stuff”! Do you buy soda pop, eat lunch out, or buy snacks from the vending machine? If so, keep track of how often you do—and how much you spend. All of these purchases add up throughout the week, the month, and the year. So budget for these, or do without!
Remember: Use your budget as a tool to help you achieve your goals. Once you set up your categories and make it a point to record the appropriate dollar amounts, you’ll see how easy it is to continue recording your income and expenses.
The most difficult part is getting started. But once you have your plan in place, you’ll recognize the power of the information that you have at your fingertips!
This sample budget worksheet has numbers filled in. For a blank form that you can fill in, go to p. 2 of the document.
Many of the subcategories in this sample will not apply to you at this time, but take a look. In the not-too-distant future, you might be adding some of them to your budget!
- In this example—as in real life—some expenses occur weekly while others occur once a year.
- Notice that the main source of income is earned weekly, but our chart asks us to keep track of totals by month (“Monthly Budget Amount” and “Monthly Actual Amount”). Remember to multiply the weekly income by four to get your monthly income.
- In this example, the person budgeted to spend $2.00 more each month. That is why we show $2.00 in the final “Difference” cell of our chart.
- Notice that in the “Movies” category, the person spent $10 more than planned while in the “Clothing” category the person spent $10 less than planned. What does this mean to you? Watch out for the areas in your life where you tend to spend a little bit more. It’s too easy to go over your budgeted amount!