Creating a budget can be a tough undertaking, especially if it is your first time making one, or if you need to significantly scale back your spending. The right budgeting tool can help you devise a plan that covers all the major expense categories, and helps you start saving with just a few mouse clicks.
CNBC Budget Calculator
CNBC provides a simple, basic calculator that produces an ideal budget based on your monthly take home pay. The budget uses the recommended percentages for each expense category -- for instance 30 percent of income for housing. It includes the categories of housing, transportation, debt, food, household, savings and everything else. It works well for those who have a reliable, monthly income and need a simple budget.
Kiplinger's Family Budget Tool
Kiplinger devised its budget tool for a two income family but, you can just enter zeros for the second income, if yours is a single income household. It takes some planning to use because it asks for your projected monthly expenses and your actual expenses. This budget tool works well if you're repeatedly short on funds as it calculates for you the difference between your projected and actual expenses in 20 fixed categories and 24 variable categories.
Crown Spending Plan
The Crown budget calculator asks for three starting entries - annual salary, tithe and taxes. You can enter zeros for any of the categories. The resulting budget provides recommended expense levels in 12 categories in both percentages and dollar amounts based on a family of four. If you have a fixed annual income, this tool can create a detailed spending plan that covers categories from housing to investments.
Mapping Your Future
Mapping Your Future provides less extensive entry requirements than Kiplinger but, you'll still need to gather together your receipts from the prior month to enter. You'll need your receipts for housing, groceries, utilities, medical insurance, clothes, entertainment, transportation, child care, and other expenses. You'll also need to know the required monthly payment for your student loans, and how much you'd like to put into savings each month. The tool automatically deducts each expense from your available total as you enter it. It is handy if your income recently changed, or you need to see where you could easily cut expenses.
Carlie Lawson is a hazards consultant, writer, and model living in Oklahoma. Her articles have appeared in "Keysian," "Movitly," "Weather and Society Watch," "Journal of Regional Studies," "Oklahoma College Press," and "JollyJo.tv." She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and mass communications, and in film and video studies, and a Master of Regional and City Planning from the University of Oklahoma.