How to Create a Bare Bones Budget

Take a Look at Your Bare Essential Expenses

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Do you need to do something drastic to get your finances back on track? Try making a bare-bones budget. It will give you an honest look at what you absolutely must spend each month only on essentials. If you can cut out the non-essential expenses that don't make the cut for a bare-bones budget, sticking to it will take your spending down, and get your bank account built back up in a hurry. Here's how to create yours:

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: 1-2 hours

Here's How to Make a Bare Bones Budget

1. Itemize your current expenses. Include everything from your mortgage to your morning cup of coffee.

2. Cross out all non-essential expenses. Things like cable TV, dining out, and extra trips to the store need to go.

3. Carry all the remaining expenses over to the Bare Bones Budget Worksheet

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Bare Bones Budget Worksheet

  

Item

Monthly Bill

Due Date

HOME

  

Mortgage or Rent

$ 

Second Mortgage

$ 

Taxes and Insurance

$ 

Repairs

$ 

Association Fees 

$ 

UTILITIES

  

Electric 

$ 

Gas or Oil 

$ 

Water and Sewer 

$ 

Phone (Primary - Landline or Mobile) 

$ 

TRANSPORTATION

  

Car Payment 1 

$ 

Car Payment 2 

$ 

Gas (min. required)  

$ 

Car Insurance 

$ 

Repairs and Maintenance 

$ 

Other Transportation  (tolls, taxis, parking, subway, bus)

$ 

INSURANCE

  

Life Insurance 

$ 

Disability 

$ 

Health Insurance 

$ 

DEBT PAYMENTS
(
Minimums only)

  

Credit Card 1 

$ 

Credit Card 2 

$ 

Credit Card 3 

$ 

Student Loans 

$ 

Other Loans 

$ 

FOOD

  

Groceries (essentials only)

$ 

FAMILY EXPENSES

  

Day Care 

$ 

Child Support 

$ 

Alimony 

$ 

School Tuition 

$ 

PERSONAL CARE

  

Hair Cuts

$ 

Prescription Medications

$ 

Toiletries

$ 

Clothing (work essentials only)

$ 

PETS

  

Food

$ 

Care (vet, meds, cat litter, etc.)  

$ 

OTHER

  
Cleaning Supplies$ 

Notes:

 

  

4. Total your expenses. Once you have listed every essential expense and eliminated the non-essentials, add up the total. The resulting figure is the minimum that you need to survive and remain current on your bills.

Tips for Creating a Bare Bones Budget

  1. For maximum effect, be honest about which expenses need to stay and which need to go. It may be time to assess whether you really need to own a car, if you can reduce your rent or mortgage, and if you can save on insurance plans.
  1. Remember to build some money into your budget for unexpected expenses; they will crop up. You will still need an emergency fund or budgeting extra each month.
  2. Seek out free entertainment to avoid feeling deprived during your bare-bones days. You can get books and videos free from the library rather than buying them or going to the theater. Look for free community events to enjoy.

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