No matter what you do for a living or how much money you make, having a solid personal or family budget in place is essential. Without a detailed budget it can be difficult to know where your money is going, but once you have that budget in place you can easily pinpoint how much you are spending in which categories. This detailed analysis can help you cut your spending, allowing you to save more without impacting your quality of life.
Gather all of your monthly bills and divide them into categories. Make a pile for utility payments, groceries, rent or mortgage, insurance and any other categories you have. Open your spreadsheet program and enter those major categories. Place one spending category on each line. Enter the amount from each bill on the appropriate line.
Review your checkbook and add categories and amounts as needed. Do the same with your credit card statements, adding up the amounts on the statement from each spending category. Break out similar categories into two or more sections. For instance, instead of having a single category for food, separate it out into groceries and dining out. This detail will help you break down your spending and find ways to save money.
Add any ATM withdrawals to your monthly budget. Cash withdrawals can be placed in their own category, while debit card purchases can be added to the category where they belong. For instance, if you made a $20 debit card purchase at the grocery store it would be added to your grocery total for the month. If you used your debit card to put $30 worth of gas in the car, add that to your fuel expenditures for the month.
Save your finished budget spreadsheet, using the month and year as the naming convention. For instance, if your budget shows spending for June 2010, the spreadsheet name would be "0610" or "June 2010." Using this naming convention will make it easier to track your budget month to month.
Make your job easier by downloading a budget template. Microsoft provides many different budget templates for Excel users.
Track your spending over several months to get a feel for the normal fluctuations. Examine each spending category and look for ways to cut back and save money.