How To Make A Budget + Free Printable Budget Template

McKinzie Bean
McKinzie Bean
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Trying to figure out how to make a budget?how to make a monthly budget

This guide will walk you through all the different types of budget plans so you can grow your savings.

If you have any financial goals in mind, you have probably heard of a budget or are thinking of making one. A budget is there for you to be able to control your expenses and help you make the most out of your income. It also makes you more aware of how you are spending your hard earned dollars.

Luckily, there are tools and apps that can help you achieve. There are various budgeting methods you can choose from based on your lifestyle or what you think will work for you.

Here’s how to make a budget plan:

How do I start my budget?

The first thing you need to do when beginning your budgeting journey is to pick the best budgeting method for you. Not all methods will work for you so you need to think about which system works best for your lifestyle.

Sometimes the right budgeting method also depends on your personality in order for it to work properly. You can also try out different methods first hand to see which one you prefer.

Some budgeting methods are:

Envelope System

This system uses cash to help you stick with your budget. If you to tend to overspend and not meet your budget targets, then this system may help you.

First, you will need to take out all the cash you need for your monthly expenses.  Then separate and divide them into separate envelopes indicating the different expenses or categories. For example, you’ll have different envelopes for groceries, gas, rent, transportation, etc.

Your goal is to only spend whatever cash is in the envelope allocated for a certain expense. If you run out of money before the end of the month, you will either need to wait until next month’s budget or use another envelope’s funds.

If you use another envelope’s money, it may also mean you will lack funds for the other categories you’ve budgeted for. 

There are apps out there that can help you with the envelope system while still using your credit cards or debit cards.  However, some suggest cash is better since you can actually see it, feel it, and it gives you a more realistic view of what is really happening with your money.

Having actual cash can also help you with good practices and you will be more aware of your spending habits.

Zero-Based Budget

The idea of a zero-based budget is that you need to account for every dollar of your income, minus designated expenses, equal to zero. This means you would need to make different categories and designate how much money you’re putting for each until there is no remaining amount from your income.

This kind of method is good for those people who are wanting to manage how every dollar is spent on their budget.  Additionally, this budgeting method can take more time since you are looking at every expense you have.

The good thing is that most of the time with this method, you won’t have any unexpected expenses since you are already assigning each dollar to something.

Using Budgeting Apps

Of course, you have the option of taking advantage of the newest technology by using apps. Some prefer apps as they are convenient, quick, and do most of the work for you. There are even apps that can alert you if you are starting to go over budget which can be super helpful!

Some of the best budget apps you can check out are:

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a free app that lets you connect your accounts to see your financial state, analyze it, and helps you to set your own financial goals. If you’re following the 50 20 30 budget rule, this app could work well for you.

Not only will you be able to categorize your expenses, but it also lets you know how you’re doing with your targets and goals. 

Additionally, you will also see where you are spending your money. This is great because you can then take the right actions in order to control your spending and stick to a certain budget.

This app will also help you to reach your goals when it comes to building your wealth since it helps you come up with a long-term investing plan.

Mint

This free app is great if you want to check the kinds of things you are spending your money on. Aside from keeping track of your different expenses, Mint will also send you alerts of any over budgets or if you have unexpected expenses.

This app has been around for a while and it hasn’t lost its popularity, and for a good reason!

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

The YNAB app has the same principles as the zero-based budgeting, which aims to give every dollar of your income a certain purpose or use. It aims to help you change your spending habits and how you view your financial plans and overall financial journey.

This is because YNAB doesn’t analyze your spending habits, but rather gives you an opportunity to change the way you see your finances and how you spend your hard-earned money.

The only downside to this app is that after the initial 34-day free trial, you need to spend $6.99 a month or $83.99 in a year.

Mvelopes

If you are into the envelope system, but would rather skip the actual envelopes and have the digital version, this app can be the one for you!

With this app, you can take a look at your spending history is so can you set a budget plan and assign a certain amount of money to “Mvelopes”. This app comes with a 30-day free trial period.  There are different plans available depending on your needs and what features you want.

Budget Worksheet

This is a classic way for you to monitor your expenses, set your financial goals, and create your budget. Using pen and paper, you can write down your expenses and plans.  Another option is to use a simple worksheet and write down your budget.

Nothing is automated or pre-programmed so it gives you a more hands-on feel and more control over things.   Additionally, you wouldn’t need to worry about connecting bank information and other money details to an app, for example.

Another option is to check online budget templates or budget worksheets to print out and fill in yourself.

I made these printable budget worksheets so you can get started creating your budget for free!

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal is a fun and creative way to make your budget. You can use your imagination and express yourself with this process. It makes things a bit more interesting and useful at the same time.

If your bullet journal keeps your interest then you are more likely you would stick to your budget. You would need a good notebook and some creativity. You can also check out different layouts that you can use.

Another good thing about using a bullet journal is that after every expense or financial goal you have hit, you can write it down in your journal to keep track of it. This way, you can see clearly where you are spending money and how you are doing with your budget.

What is the 50 20 30 budget rule

This is a popular budgeting method among many because of its simplicity and practicality.

You would only need to remember three classifications when it comes to the allocation of your money or income: needs, wants, and savings.

This would be 50% of your income going to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% for your savings.

Needs

Needs refer to your living expenses like groceries, rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation, home and auto insurance, and other similar items.

These are the things that are important to set aside a budget for out of necessity or if you don’t want to be inconvenienced later on. Another item that can be classified as needs are repayments for your debts.

No matter how little they are, they are still important and is a required expense.

Savings

Savings is what you would be keeping for your future and for your financial goals. It’s also important for when you would need to pay debts or set aside money for your debt payments.

Savings also include your emergency fund and your retirement accounts as well.

Wants

Wants refer to your lifestyle choices and your living standards. This could be the things relating to fun and entertainment, eating out, new clothes, accessories, jewelry, and many more.

Ideally, this category would include what’s left over after you have budgeted for your needs and savings. Classifying your wants can be tricky but the best way you can go about is only keeping the “wants” that truly make you happy.

The advantage of the 50 20 30 method is you can put different things into those categories, and as long as you stick within that budget, you’ll still be able to save. You’re also not constrained to strict rules and categorizations.

There’s a certain flexibility that’s valuable especially when it comes to catering to your specific requirements. This method can also work for those who are reasonably good with maintaining their finances but still need to stick to a budget in order to not live beyond their means.

How to make a personal budget

When coming up with a monthly budget, you can also make use of budget templates you can find online. You can either download them off the Internet or even take inspiration from them and create your own. This way it is customized by you and is made particularly for your specific needs.

1. Determine Your After-Tax Income

The first thing you will need to know before making your personal budget is to determine how much money you have to spend. This is your after-tax income.

You can also add up all your other sources of income to create your base. This could be your online job, your sideline jobs, spouse’s job, or a kind of passive income. If you have an inconsistent income, you can always take an average of your income in a span of three months and use this as your base.

2. Create Budget Categories

Next, you will need to determine are the categories and kinds of expenses you have. In order to do this, you need to take a look at your past spending over the last six months. 

Then you’ll be able to get an idea of your expenses. Check your credit card and bank statements to find this information.

For your cash purposes, you can try to recall what these are, write them down, and come up with the best possible estimates of where and how much you are spending on.

Don’t forget to also write down the payments you have made on your debts, even if they are just small amounts since they will add up in the big picture.

Once you already have the data, you can finalize your budget categories.

Having a budget means you want to reach an end goal. You have to set your priorities to keep your focus and not be weighed down by other financial pressures. Your budget can focus on building your emergency fund, paying off your high-interest debts, or establishing automated savings for your retirement.

Everyone has different goals when it comes to their finances and it’s up to you to determine what yours are and create the right budget plan for you.

3. Personal Budget Example

The first thing you’ll list on top of your budget is, of course, your income. You can break down your income as well so that you would know where that money is coming from.

The next thing you will need to write down is your monthly expenses. Start writing down your fixed expenses first, or the “needs”. This could be your rent, mortgage, groceries, utility bills, car payments, etc. 

You also need to determine what your financial goals are. Set it first for a shorter term of one year. Decide how you want your financial status to be in the future.

Think about what your expenses are currently and how you want to improve them or what you aspire for. This will help you to have a goal and set up objectives. This could be paying off high-interest loans, saving up for your business, or whatever goals you might have.

Another form of expenses that you have to budget for is those related to entertainment, gifts, clothes, eating out, beauty items, and others that could be classified as “wants”.

Next is subtracting your income from the expenses. If you get a positive number, it means you are living within your means or you are earning more than you are spending.

At this point, you can change it up and put more into your savings or debt payments or modify your budget so that you can make the most out of all your money.

If you end up with exactly 0 or break even, this means you have enough money, but you also don’t have a margin. You might want to work on adjusting your expenses so you have a little extra in case of emergencies or other unexpected costs you didn’t consider.

A negative number would mean you are spending more than you are earning and that you should either lessen your expenses or find a way to increase your income. You will need to prioritize and only spend on the necessities and not on the wants.

Here is a sample of a personal budget:

Income:how do I start my budget

Day job (take-home pay) – $3,500

Side-hustle income – $500

Expenses:

Rent: $1,250

Groceries: $400

Utilities: $2o0

Car Payment: $200

Fuel: $150

Debt repayment: $400

Savings: $500

Eating out: $75

Insurance: $300

Misc:

Charity: $100

Beauty/Barber/Hygiene: $40

= $3615

Monitoring your budget

Once you have created and set up your budget plan, it doesn’t end there.

In order to make the most of it and be successful, you need to monitor it. Especially in the beginning. You will observe to make sure that your totals were accurate and it is possible for you to stay within your limits or if an expense becomes irrelevant.

When you are just starting, you can review your budget plan every week. By doing this, you can spot mistakes and issues early on and correct them right away. 

Later on, as you getting used to things, you can review your budget monthly. We like to sit down on the first Saturday of the month and look over our previous months budget together. This helps us stay accountable since we know we will have this meeting. 

You can always adjust and tweak your budget according to your situation and assessments. Don’t be discouraged when things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to. Try to stick with your budget and continue until things would get better.  

When it comes to the success of a budget, there’s a balance involved and it depends on how you’re able to track your spending and how you define and set up your goals to be realistic and attainable.

Make sure you create your personal budget with clear goals in mind and also be honest and diligent with tracking your expenses. Doing this will ensure that you will stay on the right path to your financial objectives.

Do you feel more confident about how to make a budget? Let us know in the comments below what budget method you are going to try!

Related Budgeting For Beginners Posts: 

how to make a budget plan how to make a personal budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKinzie Bean
Hi, I'm McKinzie! I'm a mommy of two, married to my sweetheart and a finance junkie. I love teaching other moms how to save money, make money and take control of their financial situation. In college, I double majored in Financial Planning and Psychology because I love all things money and people. You may have seen me in publications like Forbes, The Penny Hoarder, Tailwind & more.

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