As much as I love organizing, I do not love 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. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Hubby and I decided in July though, that it was time to get back on track. I’ve been working on it throughout the month and I’d love to share my experience. I also created a printable budget worksheet that you can download for free. After you get this budget worksheet, be sure to check out my household budget tips.
School starting always seems like New Years to me. I reorganize things, set new goals and start a lot of projects. This is really as good a time as any to start budgeting. 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.
Printable 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 many of the people I know do. I also left a few lines where you can write in expenses I have left off. We also don’t and have never had a car payment.
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. Most of my spending fall under one of them. I know “fun shopping” is kind of vague, but it is also the easiest to eliminate when necessary.
Using the budget worksheet
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 fix 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?
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. For my family, 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 menu plan. And if we run out of something, it has to wait until the next week. The second thing was to cut out fast food. We really don’t eat out for dinner all that often.
However, with it being so hot, we have gone to Sonic after our weekly trip to the library a lot. Drinks are half-price every day from 2-4 p.m., so it sounds like a good deal, right? But four drinks times four weeks means a lot of cash spent 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. Print several of these and track how your spending changes over a few months.
To see my real budget in action, see how my family uses the 50/30/20 budget plan.
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