Budget Worksheet for Discretionary Expenses

Use this worksheet to determine how much you spend on fun

Discretionary expenses budget worksheet
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In this budget worksheet, we'll take a look at how much money you spend on discretionary expenses. If you think the word "discretionary" has an ominous ring to it, you're probably not alone. It translates to, "I want that!" as opposed to, "I need this." These expenses are non-essential, unlike those for things like housing and insurance. It's money you can spend on dining out or other niceties because it's left over after you pay your essential bills.

And that's the crux of a discretionary spending budget – it's only as big as the income you have available to fund it. 

How to Use This Worksheet 

You can use this worksheet by itself to get an idea of how much you spend on discretionary expenses. You can also use it along with our other budgeting worksheets to create a complete budget.

Cutting Back on Discretionary Spending 

Discretionary expenses are typically those that you could live without if push came to shove, so this worksheet consists of bills that are easy to cut out. Of course, that can be a matter of personal opinion. Some people find it hard to imagine that some of these items – like cable television and home internet – are “discretionary.” But if you think about it, they're not essential to our survival, no matter how much we might love our TV shows or Facebook games.

Most budget leaks occur within the discretionary category. Perhaps you never really thought about how much your gym membership was costing you or how much you were spending at restaurants.

If you're trying to save money or figure out why all your money is gone at the end of every month, look at your discretionary expenses. These are the first things that should go if you need to cut back on your spending.

Examples of Discretionary Expenses

Here's a list of some common discretionary line items.

Enter what you think you're spending on them in the middle column, then go through your last few months of bank and credit card statements and enter how much you actually spend on them each month. If you typically use cash, you'll have to dedicate a month or two to save your receipts first. 

DISCRETIONARY EXPENSEMONTHLY ESTIMATEACTUAL
Cable or Satellite TV  
Internet  
Dining Out - Restaurants  
Fast Food/Casual Eateries  
Clothing  
Gym / Fitness Club  
Beauty Products  
Subscriptions (magazine, Netflix, etc.)  
Professional / Club dues  
Hobbies and Sports  
Lessons (Music, Art, etc.)  
Holidays and Gifts  
Charitable Donations  
Misc #1  
Misc #2  
TOTAL  

If this discretionary spending worksheet is the only budget you're using, you should now have a pretty good idea of where you're spending your "extra" money. Use this list to generate ideas about where to make cuts in your budget if necessary.

Try using this along with the worksheet for income and necessary expenses so you can create a complete budget.

The Next Step for a Complete Budget

If you've used the income and necessary expenses worksheet, you can now add your fixed and discretionary totals. 

 MONTHLY ESTIMATEACTUAL
Total Expenses (Necessary + Discretionary)  
Total Income  
Difference  

If you spend more than you earn, you'll need to make cuts to your budget immediately. You're at risk of going into debt or deepening your debt. If you earn more than you spend, congratulations.