Budget Worksheet for Discretionary Expenses

Use this worksheet to determine how much you spend on fun

Discretionary expenses budget worksheet
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This budget worksheet can help you examine the details of how much money you spend on discretionary expenses. The word "discretionary" may have an ominous ring to it, because it basically translates to, "I want that!" as opposed to, "I need this."

Discretionary 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 ​other budgeting worksheets to create a complete budget.

Cutting Down Discretionary Spending

This worksheet consists of bills that are easy to cut out if you had to reduce your spending. That can be a matter of personal opinion, as 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 your survival, no matter how much you might love your TV shows, Facebook, or online games.

Most budget overspending occurs within the discretionary category. You may not have thought about how much your gym membership was costing you or how much you were spending at restaurants or on morning coffee. If you're trying to save for a house, for example, and figure out why all your money is gone at the end of every month, scrutinize all of your discretionary expenses.

Examples of Discretionary Expenses

Here's a list of some common discretionary line items. Start by entering 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 may have to dedicate a month or two to save your receipts first. 

Cable or Satellite TV
Dining Out - Restaurants
Fast Food/Casual Eateries
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

Even if this discretionary spending worksheet is the only budget you're using, you will probably have a pretty good idea of where you're spending your extra money once you complete this exercise. Use this list to generate ideas about where to make cuts in your budget if necessary.

Use 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. 

Total Expenses (Necessary + Discretionary)
Total Income

If you spend more than you earn, it goes without saying that you'll need to make cuts to your spending immediately. Resist the urge to go into debt or deepen your debt to remedy the situation.