By making a personal weekly budget, you create limits for yourself. These limits help you avoid spending more than you can afford. Staying within a budget takes practice, but if you stick with it you will probably find that it becomes easier -- and you are likely to save money in the long run.
Track regular weekly spending for about one month before making your budget so you have an idea of your typical spending habits. Record everything you spend money on, from a pack of gum to a major purchase. Identifying your typical spending habits will help you create a realistic budget that you’ll be more likely to maintain.
Note your after-tax income for the month so you know how much money you have for all bills and expenses.
Add your fixed monthly bills and expenses together. These expenses should include rent or house payment, car payment, insurance, Internet/cable and cell phone. Estimate an average fixed cost of utilities, which may vary. Add contributions to savings as a fixed expense to make sure you save. Calculate the amount of money you want to allocate for other expenses, such as groceries, gas, clothing, revolving credit payments, entertainment and miscellaneous. Add the fixed expense total to the other expense total to get the total amount of expenses that need to come out of your income.
Subtract your total expenses from your total income to see the bottom line of your monthly budget. As long as your expenses are less than your income, you’re living within your means. If your expenses are higher than your total income, trim expenses wherever possible to bring them down.
Divide the unfixed monthly expenses by four to create a weekly budget. For example, if you allocated $400 per month for groceries, you can spend $100 per week on groceries. If you allocated $200 per month on gas, you can spend $50 per week on gas. Write down the weekly breakdown of each category of unfixed expenses to create your weekly spending budget.
Track your spending under your new budget to make sure you spend according to the plan. If you find that you spend more or less, make adjustments to your budget so it’s on track with your spending. If you go over budget in some categories, trim expenses by eating out less, using coupons for groceries and shopping at thrift stores. If you spend less than your budget in some categories, you might put your extra funds into savings.
Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.