How to Prepare a Budget Sheet

Written by evelyn trimborn
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How to Prepare a Budget Sheet
Preparing a budget sheet is one of the best ways to cut costs and save money. (still life with calculator image by Astroid from Fotolia.com)

A budget sheet is an essential tool for creating a personal or household/family budget. Having a budget sheet will help you with all of your financial planning, such as meeting all your obligations each month. It is also a key element in helping you set aside any remaining income for emergencies, vacations and long-term goals such as college tuition and retirement. A budget sheet doesn't have to be complicated to be effective.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • A computer
  • Internet connection
  • Samples of budget sheets from reliable financial advice websites
  • A printer
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Copies of the last three months of all pay stubs/records of income
  • Copies of the last three months of all household bills
  • Copies of the last three months of all bank statements
  • Copies of the last three months of your credit card statements
  • Accounting software (optional)

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Instructions

    How to Prepare a Budget Sheet

  1. 1

    In your spreadsheet program, begin to create your budget sheet by listing all categories of income and expenses. Put income at the top, and the expense items in logical groupings below. These may include, but are not limited to, rent, utilities, car expenses, medical expenses, food, education and entertainment.

  2. 2

    Copy these categories onto a second worksheet in the spreadsheet file you have created, and save the file.

  3. 3

    In the income cells on the first worksheet of the spreadsheet file, enter the wages you currently earn on a monthly basis. If you get paid each week, multiply the net amount on the pay stub by four. If you get paid every two weeks, multiply the net amount by two. If you do not earn a fixed net amount each week, add up the net amount for all of your pay stubs for the last three months and then divide by three. This will be your average monthly income.

  4. 4

    In the expenses cells on the worksheet, enter the amounts of all of the household bills paid. Add more categories and rows of cells if needed. Calculate the average expense per month using the appropriate spreadsheet formula.

  5. 5

    Look at your bank statements. Try to assign each item listed to an appropriate category. For ATM withdrawals, create a category called cash. Note any recurring direct debits (such as insurance payments or memberships) or automatic deposits into the account (such as commission checks, stock dividends and so on) and make sure they are included on the spreadsheet.

  6. 6

    If have accounting software, you may wish to enter all the details of your bank statements, and the categories assigned, into the accounting program to help with your financial organisation and tax records. Create a new record for each account. Then run a report based on categories and enter the totals onto the spreadsheet. Divide by three to arrive at a monthly average for each category.

  7. 7

    Look at your credit card statements. Try to assign each item listed to an appropriate category. Note any recurring charges. Look at the interest paid each month and note it on the spreadsheet.

  8. 8

    If you wish, create a new register in the accounting software for each credit card bill. Note all the details of each credit card statement, and the categories assigned, to help with your financial organisation and tax records. Then run a report based on categories and enter the totals onto the spreadsheet. Divide by three to arrive at a monthly average for each category.

  9. 9

    Transfer the monthly averages you calculated in Steps 4 through 8 onto the second sheet in the spreadsheet file. This will be your monthly budget sheet.

  10. 10

    Add up all income on the budget sheet using the appropriate spreadsheet formula. This is your total income.

  11. 11

    Add up all of the expenses on the budget sheet using the appropriate spreadsheet formula. This is your total expenditures.

  12. 12

    Subtract the number you arrived at in Step 12 from the sum you calculated in Step 11. The difference will be your budget surplus or your budget shortfall.

Tips and warnings

  • Look at all of the expenses in each category to see if you can find any opportunities to save.
  • If there is any budget surplus on your budget sheet, consider paying down all credit card balances, or making additional payments on your mortgage, for even greater savings. And remember this financial planning advice: The best way to save money is to pay yourself first. Adjust other expenditures as necessary, particularly for things like entertainment.
  • There are many small expenditures that are easy to overlook when planning your budget. Try to capture the complete flow of money into and out of the household.
  • If your budget reveals a shortfall in income compared with expenses, look at each item on the budget sheet to see if it can be reduced or eliminated.

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