One of the things that working adults cite as a deterrent to household budgeting is simply a lack of understanding of how to create a budget plan. It may seem like a minor task, but it’s one that causes significant enough stress that causes many working adults simply not to stick to a monthly household budget.
Actually, drawing up a budget plan is the easy part. The more difficult part is thinking through all of those expenses that should show up on the written plan. It does require some introspection, but once this obstacle is overcome, household budgeting is a much simpler task.
To start, you’ll have to either borrow or create from scratch some type of grid. Your grid can be on paper or on your computer, whichever you prefer. (Doing it on your computer gives you the option of printing out physical copies as well.)
You can hand-draw a grid or use graph paper if you like. However, if you have a home computer, it’s easiest to use a ready-made budget plan grid (spreadsheet). You can use a program like Microsoft Excel to create a skeleton grid, or one of the many household budgeting software programs available.
Another option is to print a budget template from an online source. You’ll find lots templates/spreadsheets on the Internet, most free for the downloading.
Make sure that whatever you choose has lots of columns and lines. How many you’ll need, exactly, will depend on how you set up your budget plan.
A common outline, and one that is probably the easiest for the average person with a relatively simply income and list of expenditures, is to use 14 (or more) columns. Twelve of the columns will be for the 12 months of the year. There will also be a column (usually the first one) for listing your various expenses. You should also leave a column or two at the end for totals and other notes.
Next, you should list your expenditures line by line in the column designated for expenditures (that first column). This will include things like:
* Bills (utilities, cable, phone, etc.)
* Loan payments (mortgage, car, school)
* Credit card payments
* Entertainment (eating out, going to movies, playing golf, etc.)
* Gift giving (birthdays, holidays)
* Miscellaneous (for any of those expenses that creep up occasionally and don’t fit under any of the other categories)
* Donations to charity or church tithe
This is just a basic, universal outline. You may have other regular or anticipated expenses that are unique. If so, you should include a line for these on your personalized budget plan.
Do your best to cover every single expense that you have, particularly those that occur regularly (weekly/monthly). You’ll be allocating every single dollar of your income to these areas, so if you forget to include an expense, you’ll have to re-shuffle your entire budget to accommodate it later on.
If you are new to the idea of household budgeting, you’ll probably find that it will take two or three full months to get a workable budget plan going. It can be hard to anticipate every little expense, so prepare to make adjustments along the way. (One way to cover these unexpected expenses is to allocate more money to your “miscellaneous” line. You can always change this in a few months as you become more used to budgeting.)