When it comes to creating a personal budget, your objective will often determine what budget example is best for you. From budgets that do no more than account for your income and expenses to those that help you meet your financial goals, there's a budget, and a budgeting tool, that's perfect for you.
Simple Income/Expenses Budget
The simplest personal monthly budget is one that accounts for your income and expenses. Nothing more, nothing less. Creating a budget that accounts for your monthly income and recurring expenses requires nothing more than a piece of paper and pen, plus pay stubs or other information about your income and your stack of monthly bills. All you need to do is list your total monthly income, then deduct your recurring expenses.
If you're interested in contributing more of your monthly budget to savings or investments, you can elaborate on the simple income/expenses budget by creating a line item for savings and/or investments. Ideally, you're putting away something towards savings from each paycheck, anyway, but if you're not, create a special category in your expenses for savings and/or investments. If you have multiple savings goals, such as a vacation, a down payment for a home or a personal retirement fund, create line items for each of these savings goals, and pay them monthly.
Debt Repayment Budget
Paying yourself out of debt is difficult under any circumstances, but it's nearly impossible without creating a budget that shows you definitively how much you have to dedicate to debt repayment each month. A debt repayment builds on the simple income/expenses budget by directing more of your monthly income toward paying off debt. After regularly monthly expenses are deducted from your income each month, a portion of the remainder is used to pay down debt. How you choose to budget the part of the remainder that you use for debt repayment is up to you; some put the entire amount toward one debt until that debt is repaid, or, divide the remainder up, paying some toward all debts.
Monthly Budget Tools
Regardless of your budgeting goals, there are electronic and old-fashioned paper tools that can help you to create a personal monthly budget that works for you. If you use Microsoft Office, there are templates for Word and Excel that create budgets for you. If you'd rather use a simple budgeting tool online, both Kiplinger.com and Bankrate.com offer options. Web-based software, including Quicken and Mint, can help you create more elaborate monthly budgets.
- "Forbes"; A Beginner's Guide To Budgets; Anna Vander Broek; July 2009
- Bankrate.com; 7 Steps to Creating a Budget; Shelly K. Schwartz; 2007
- "Kiplinger"; Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting; Cameron Huddleston; June 2007
- Federal Trade Commission. "Making a Budget - What It Is." Accessed June 6, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Financial Terms Glossary - Fixed Expenses." Accessed June 6, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Financial Terms Glossary - Variable Expenses." Accessed June 6, 2020.
A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.