Creating a Budget – 52 Week Money Savings Challenge
Are you ready to sit down and figure some things out this week? We’re at week 4 of our 52 Week Money Savings Challenge which means the deposit for this week is $4 and today, we’re going to talk about creating a budget. We already talked about our grocery budget last week (sorry, my weeks got messed up and I published that post first, however, this one should have come first). For us, the grocery budget is the most easily adjusted budget item, so it’s often the line item that I go to and make changes, but this week, before we get too much farther into the year, we need to figure out the budget as a whole.
Click the image or HERE to print print your own My Home Budget printable before we get started.
Creating a Budget
Let’s get started on creating a budget. Pull/print out your last 3 bank statements. Look over them and see what categories you’re going to use on the My Home Budget page. If you want, you can give each category a color and highlight the corresponding expenses on your statements. Do this for all three statements. Now, you’ll need some scratch paper so you can start adding up the categories.
When I’m adding categories for the last three months, I tally each one for each month, then do a final for all three months combined. After that, I divide by 3 or however many statements I’m looking over. Why do I do it this way? Adding up each category for each month shows me how much I spent that month and I can see if all three months are similar or if I under/over spent and which month I did. Once I know, I can then just figure out where we should be at for each month or I can average it out by the number of statements.
Now let’s talk about each category on the budget sheet.
Expected Income: Tally all the income you’ve had come in over the last month (+ two if you’re averaging) and add it to this line.
Charity: We give to our church as we get paid. You may or may not do this, or you may keep track of all your donations to other charities or places like Goodwill.
Housing: For us, our property taxes and insurance are included in our monthly mortgage payment so I’m not going to break it down for myself. However, if you’re paying for them each individually, here is where to put them. Don’t forget to include any HOA fees that you might pay.
Utilities: For us, it’s important to have our electricity and natural gas separate. We us natural gas for our cook stove, home heat, dryer and water heater so it becomes a big expense during the winter months. If you’re just purely on electric, it won’t matter for you.
Variable Expenses: These are expenses that I feel are very variable for us. Yes, you’ll have a minimum that you’ll need to buy/pay for, but often, you can spend more or less in these areas. Groceries, like I’ve said, is the first line item I go to when we need to cut back. Why? Well, we’ve already eliminated things like landlines, we have no cable, we don’t eat out often, we’ve refinanced, etc. If you’re budget is really tight, you can cut out dinning out altogether and maybe dry cleaning/laundry (if you have your own washer). Even when it comes to credit card debt, you can pay the minimum this month and maybe next month, you can add even more so it’s paid off sooner.
Auto: After you’ve figured out how much you average in gas a month, maybe start thinking about ways you can cut down on the gas unless it’s pretty minimal already. One way you can cut down on auto expenses is by doing car maintenance/repair yourself.
Health: Maybe you already have this coming out of your paycheck before you see it and if so, that’s great. If it’s not, then it’s definitely something you’ll have to plan for (like us) and that goes for medical, dental and vision.
Savings: Ahh… now we can figure out what we can save. If our budgets are tight, it might not be much, but something is better than nothing. I think it’s great if you can have an emergency fund (living expenses for 3+ months) and a separate savings account. Why? Well, you might want to take a vacation or have some major unexpected expenses arise that you don’t want to use your emergency fund on. For us, we don’t have an emergency fund at all so I’m going to set one up this week and start small (this will be in addition to the 52 Week Money Savings challenge).
Unaccounted Expenses: We can always be prepared but the fact of the matter is, we’re never fully prepared. We don’t know what we’ll face tomorrow. I’ve provided 3 lines for the ‘just in case’ where you can fill them in with expenses pertaining to you or for the unexpected.
Totals: It’s time to tally up your total expense. If you’ve kept a running calculator as you enter all your expenses, you’ll see exactly what and where your money goes as well as where you’ll need to cut it back. Your expenses should not go over your actual income. If it does, it’s time to pull back and make some more cuts to your expenses.
What are ways that help keep you on budget? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
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I’m so glad to have you on this journey with me. I’m looking forward to each week and I hope these posts and the emails are not only helpful to you, but encouraging as well.
- If you are new and just now joining, subscribe to the weekly email and download your own copy of the 52 Week Money Savings Challenge printable. All current subscribers are entered into an Amazon drawing held at the end of the month.
- If you want to catch up on the reading of each week, go to our 52 Week Money Savings Challenge page and check out each week listed, as you’re able. Don’t worry about catching up on savings amounts unless you’re able to, just start with the current week and add extra if/as you’re able.
- Want to open an online bank account to help keep things separated? I personally use Capital One 360 and have for years. It takes a few days for transfers to complete if you’re using a local bank.