Your Personal Management Merit Badge project includes developing a budget, a process that extends over 13 weeks. As you develop your budget, keep in mind that you will be uncovering thoughts and ideas about money for later discussion with your merit badge counselor. One of the most important goals of this process is to discover the differences between “Actual” and “Expected.”
Create Budget Sheets
On one sheet of ruled 8.5-inch-by-11-inch paper, write “Week 1” in the top margin with your pencil. The margin will be about one inch deep. Leave room for the week’s dates to be labeled.
Measure down from the margin about 3.5 inches. Draw a horizontal line across the page. Label this section “Income and Savings.” Measure down 3.5 inches from the bottom of your Income section and draw a horizontal line across the page. Label this section “Expenses.” Draw a third horizontal line about 3.5 inches below your Expenses section. Label this section “Difference.”
Your next series of divisions on your page are vertical. To create five columns, first measure about 1.75 inches from the left edge of the paper. Draw a vertical line from the bottom of the top margin to the bottom of the paper. Measure another 1.75 inches and repeat the process until you have drawn four vertical lines, each of which is about 1.75 inches distant from the others. Now you have three sections and five columns.
Label Column 1 “Item.” Label Column 2 “Expected Date.” Label Column 3 “Actual Date.” Label Column 4 “Expected Amount” and Column 5 “Actual Amount.”
Since your budgeting project takes place over 13 weeks, label at least 13 sheets of paper in this same manner. You may wish to makes spares. Calculations can get messy and you may need your eraser.
Label your Week 1 sheet with the dates of your first week.
Begin entering information on your sheets. In your “Income and Savings” section, under “Item,” enter the source of income or savings you have or expect to have. Under “Expected Date,” enter the date when you anticipate you will have the money. Save the column “Actual Date” for when the money arrives. The “Expected Amount” column is where you enter the dollar amount you anticipate you will have. “Actual Amount” may be the same or may turn out to be different. Monies that may be entered can come from many sources including allowance, pay for chores, pay for jobs and gifts.
In your “Expense” section, follow the same process. Expenses are monies that you pay out of your own pocket.
At the end of the week, you will use your calculator and subtract. If the Income and Savings section is greater, subtract the expenses from it. This is your surplus. If the Expenses are greater, subtract the Income and Savings. This is your deficit. Compare the actual amounts to expected amounts.
At the end of 13 weeks, take a separate sheet of paper. Total your Expenses. Total your Income and Savings. Discover which is greater. Compare the actual amounts from the entire 13 weeks to the expected amounts. Report your findings to your merit badge counselor.
Consider how you feel when you have money on hand and how you feel when you do not. Consider how you feel when you respond to advertising by making a purchase and how you feel about advertising claims. Explain how you feel when you buy on impulse and if you feel remorseful later. Consider whether you spend more on food items when you are hungry and on beverages when you are thirsty. Consider how you feel when you save money and how you feel when you give to charity.
Developing a personal budget is a personal challenge. To avoid being unduly influenced by peers during this process, consider limiting your sharing about your process to trusted individuals such as a parent or counselor.
Arizona-based Mary Schultz has contributed articles about family, health, home improvement, agriculture and travel to newspapers and magazines. For over three award-winning decades as a marketing writer, Schultz has focused on technology, financial and insurance services and products, medical care, health and fitness, community heritage, tourism and charitable causes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, honors English, from California State University, Northridge.