Try This Build-a-Budget Form

This Worksheet Helps You to Get in Control of Your Spending

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Printable Budget Worksheet. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

A good household budget starts with an honest assessment of your monthly expenses. Cheating doesn't pay, so don't underestimate your fixed and variable but required expenses just to be able to squeeze in discretionary ones.

Use this budget worksheet to jot down all of your regularly occurring expenses, including any money that you spend on eating out, hobbies or other forms of entertainment. Fill in all of the fields that pertain to you, and ignore the ones that don't.

Have expenses that aren't included on the form? There's room to add those in under the "Other" category.

You're on the road to knowing where your paychecks are going and being more in control of your spending. (Who knew eating lunch out every workday could cost about $3,750 in a year?) Maybe you have a better place to spend that money.

Tips

  • For car insurance, property tax and other expenses that don't follow a monthly billing format, find the total cost per year and divide it by 12. This will give you the monthly cost to enter on the form.
  • If your real estate tax and homeowner's insurance are being escrowed by your mortgage lender, do not itemize them on the form. They'll be included in your monthly mortgage payment
  • For now, only include the minimum payments required to satisfy your debts; you'll build in extra payments in a later step
  • Not sure how much you spend on groceries, eating out or entertainment? Use the Monthly Spending Worksheet to track your spending and find out

    What Do I Do Next?

    Once you've completed the Build-a-Budget Worksheet, it's time to determine if your living expenses are compatible with your income. 

    No one wants to discover they are not making enough to support their lifestyle, but if the budget worksheet leads you to that unhappy conclusion, well, knowledge is power.

    Being aware of the shortfall is the first step to figuring out what to do about it. Some relatively painless solutions:

    • Consolidate credit card debt into one loan with a lower interest rate.
    • Cut down on going out to dinner.
    • Cut down on indulging in alcoholic beverages when you go out to dinner, which can add up to more than the food you order.
    • Cut the cord on cable and use streaming services.
    • Reduce or eliminate regular stops at coffee bars for those 5-buck lattes.
    • Brown-bag your lunch to work at least four days a week.
    • Limit movies at the theater to one a month and watch the rest via streaming or on DVDs.
    • When you go to the movies, pass on the concessions.

    Build-a-Budget Worksheet pdf: Print

    Refer to "How to Create a Frugal Budget" for a step-by-step guide to the rest of the budgeting process.

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