How to Create a Budget Worksheet

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A budget is a planning tool that allows households to project monthly income and expenses. Budget worksheets will help you to manage routine and recurring monthly expenses, for example, by tracking spending by comparing projected expenses against actual expenditures. Similar to the checklist and to-do list, budget worksheets also serve as a road map to help individuals see the big picture and develop strategies to achieve specific long-term and short-term goals.

Develop columns for income sources. Budget worksheets generally track income and expenses for monthly accounting cycles. For pay that is not received monthly, payments would be recalculated to establish the monthly amount for purposes of completing the worksheet. Income might include pay received from sources such as full-time and part-time jobs, less taxes; freelance work; and alimony and child support.

Create savings sub-categories that align with your particular budget scenario. If you pay yourself first, which you should do, include a savings category on the worksheet to subtract your monthly savings from monthly income. Savings may include sub-categories, such as allocations to retirement savings accounts in addition to a savings account for emergency funds.

Establish budget worksheet categories for recording the monthly costs for all household expenses. This will include such sections as mortgage or rent, property taxes, insurance costs, utility costs, telephone service, cable, transportation and expenses for other recurring household-related services.

Set out classifications for all loans and credit cards you owe. Include a separate line for each credit card and include a space for tracking the total balances. Also include loan payments, such as those for student loans and automobile loans.

Plan for the unplanned. Some expenses do not easily fit in estimates for monthly household expenses because they are either unplanned or occur on different accounting cycles, such as annual bills. Unexpected expenses are typically associated with professional health care, legal services, accounting, repair and maintenance services. An example of an annual expense includes state government costs for car tags and inspection.

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About the Author

Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications, including the "Chicago Tribune," and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.

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