Creating and sticking to a budget is challenging but essential. Use a printable budget worksheet to track your monthly spending. Once you know where your money goes, you can make smart changes.
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As much as I love organizing, it took me a long time to enjoy budgeting. I am pretty frugal and we are good at living within our means, but creating a budget and sticking to it has always been a challenge. I always start the month with good intentions, but it seems like something always comes up to derail my plans.
Budgeting isn’t something we learn in school, though, and even if your parents taught you the basics, doing it on your own is probably completely different.
There’s never a bad time to get started budgeting – but you also won’t have any more success if you start at the “right” time. In the past, I have made a lot of excuses. Extra expenses come along – like holidays and birthdays – to throw off my plans. If I’m honest, though, there is always something.
How to use a budget worksheet
In my own budget, I included only the expenses that we have. However, I added a few categories for this printable that I think many people use. For example, we don’t pay for cable or satellite but do have Amazon Prime. We also didn’t have a car payment until we were in our 30s.
The budget worksheet is divided into three main categories: household bills, necessities, and irregular expenses. Household bills are the regular monthly bills that are necessary for your house. They aren’t really flexible.
The second category, necessities, is things that you purchase regularly with a flexible amount. The last category, irregular expenses, is really divided into sub-categories. These expenses are just every now and then and can vary widely from month to month. The “fun shopping” sub-category is kind of vague, but it is also the easiest to eliminate when necessary.
Start by writing in your income sources at the top. Also, fill in the date for each week. Now start keeping track of how much you spend. Before you can make changes to your budget, you need to know what you are already doing. Every time money comes in or goes out, write it on the correlating line under the appropriate week. When you get to the end of the month, add up your totals.
Where do you spend most of your money? Where can you cut back? If your income is flexible, how can you earn more if you need to?
How to create a budget
Once you know how much you earn and spend, you can create a budget. Only you can determine what needs to change.
After going through this worksheet myself, I realized that we were spending a lot more than I thought on food. I was sticking to my grocery budget for weekly shopping. But I also ran to the store for one or two things I forgot on a weekly basis. And we were spending more on dining out than I realized too. Using my budget worksheet, I discovered that we were spending about six weeks’ worth of food budget every month.
To fix this, I’m doing two things. First, I’m trying to pay more attention when I make my grocery list and meal plan so that I don’t end up making extra trips to the store. And if we run out of something, it has to wait until the next week. The second thing was to cut back on restaurants. When I make a simple meal plan I can stick to, we are less likely to hit the drive-thru.
It’s easy to think that a few dollars here and there don’t make a difference, but they really add up. One summer, we went to Sonic after our weekly trip to the library. Drinks are half-price every day from 2-4 p.m., so it sounds like a good deal, right? But drinks for four people once per week adds up to between $16 and $20 each month. Besides, I can make an orange sunrise smoothie or a cherry limeade at home.
I think that it’s okay to take several months to create a good budget. It has to be realistic if you are going to stick to it. You probably need to update it often, because things change. Print several of these and track how your spending changes over a few months.
Printable budget worksheet
This budget worksheet fits on a single 8.5×11-inch page. You can print as many copies as you need for personal use.
You may need to allow popups or give permission to download. See Printables Troubleshooting and FAQ for help. If you want to save this for later, please pin an image from this blog post instead of saving the direct link to the PDF.
If you found this post helpful, you might also like:
- How the 50/30/20 Budget Works for My Family
- How to Budget on a Variable Income
- Budget Tips for Beginners
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