If you decide to create a budget, you’re already on the right track to managing your money. Because not having one leads to overspending. And having one can help you achieve financial freedom — whether that means retirement or creating generational wealth. The good news is that it’s never too late to start building your budget. The most important step is getting started.
How do I make a budget worksheet?
The first step is to take a look at your monthly income and expenses, that way you have a good idea of your necessities. Next, think about your financial goals, and choose a budget that will keep you on track to reach them.
Equally important in a budget is one that leaves room for your wants, too. If you’re sacrificing everything you want for the sake of your future goal, you could be on the road to financial anxiety. Instead of going that route, prioritize the things you enjoy, too.
And how exactly do I break down my budget?
We rounded up a few examples for each section to make building your budget a little easier — whether you decide to use our template (scroll down to check it out), or go with a more traditional method like cash stuffing.
This is your income amount after all the deductions. Like taxes, 401(k) contributions, and insurance premiums.
This portion of your budget is for the extra bucks you bring in every month. If it fluctuates, list the average amount on your budget. Oh, and don’t forget to count alimony, child support, your tax refund, side hustle income— all the money you get besides that paycheck from your 9-5.
This section is for the bills you pay on a regular basis. Like rent or mortgage, car payments, and your phone bill. You should also consider debt repayments like student loans or credit card bills.
Think about these as one-off costs, or something you may not pay every single month. That could include your insurance premiums, home maintenance costs, or tuition.
These are the expenses that can easily lead to overspending. But your wants are important, too. Rewarding yourself can help motivate you to stick to your budget. No need to skip dinner at your favorite restaurant — but try to plan ahead for it financially, if you can.
How much do you need to save to reach your goals? Here’s where you set aside money for your emergency fund. Or that house you plan on buying in a few years.
Need some more help? Here’s a template for your next budgeting worksheet we drew up for you:
A budget worksheet stresses me out. What else can I do?
You can also go with a budgeting app. Some let you create a category for your goals, and technology does all the monitoring. No pen and paper needed.
Everyone’s budget is different. But the basic things that go into building one are generally the same: Set your goals and stay on top of your spending.
Updated on March 21, 2023 to include the latest info.
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