Setting a budget. That word ‘budget’ appears all over the place, including in most of my blog posts. You probably know that you need to have a budget, but maybe you’re not really sure how to go about actually doing it? The purpose of my post today is to help get you started with how to set your budget. It’s really easy once you know how…
First things first
Before you start setting limits in all your budget areas, first of all you need to know how much you’re currently spending. And the best way to do that is to track your spending. It’s up to you how long you choose to do that for, but if most months are roughly the same for you then I’d suggest one month would be a sufficient amount of time.
How to track your spending
One of the best ways to track your spending is with a budgeting app. I’m currently using Goodbudget but I’m also trialling a couple of other apps to compare. I’ll be writing about my findings in a future blog post, so watch out for that later this year.
I like using an app to track my spending as it’s right there on my phone, which I always have to hand, so I can easily input my spending on the go.
If you prefer paper and pen to make notes then I’ve created some done-for-you budgeting worksheets which have all the areas there for you to simply fill in the blanks. You can download them right now by clicking the button below.
More on those later
Categorise your spending
Splitting your spending into categories makes it much easier for you to see which areas are incurring the most expense throughout the month. As an example, you could group together all your different supermarket spends into ‘groceries’, your fixed expenses (mortgage/rent, gas/electricity, internet etc) into ‘household’ and all your kids activities, toddler groups etc into ‘kids’.
There are no rules when it comes to categorising your spending, you can group together whatever you want into whichever category you want. Just make sure that it makes sense to you and don’t over-complicate things! One of the apps I’m currently trialling has subcategories within the main categories, which I find is too much.
Which areas are you currently overspending in? Find out by following my ultimate budgeting guide. #budgeting Click To Tweet
What to do next…
Now you can see where all your money is going it’s time to analyse that information. Are there categories where you’re surprised at how much you’re spending? It’s amazing how much those little expenses add up, which is why tracking your spending is so important.
Set your limits
If there are obvious areas where you’re overspending, now is the time to put a limit on how much you’re spending in that area. There you go, you just set your first budget! See how easy that was!
What should be left at the end of the month?
Once you’ve looked through all your categories and set all your spending limits (in other words, created your budget), let’s look at what should be left at the end of each month.
Let’s go back to the budgeting worksheets I’ve created for you. There’s a box at the bottom of the monthly budget sheet where you can work out how much you should have left at the end of each month. This is another great way to check how your budget is going. If there’s something specific you’re saving for, then you’ll likely have an amount in mind that you would ideally be adding to your savings each month.
Once you’ve filled out your monthly budget, including the bottom box to work out what should be left if you stick to your budget, it’s up to you to then go back and tweak any areas you need to increase that number if necessary. Don’t forget to download your FREE budgeting worksheets by clicking the button below.
You can read about how to easily boost your savings in more detail in my post about how we saved £8k in one year as a single income family.
What about big annual expenses?
So now your monthly budget is all worked out and your savings are starting to grow nicely. There’s just one more thing to think about. Those annoying big annual expenses that have a habit of creeping up on you unannounced.
You know the ones I’m talking about…car insurance, boiler service, road tax, house insurance etc etc. Your list might be different to mine, but you will have a list.
As well as done-for-you monthly budgeting worksheets, I’ve also made keeping track of these big expenses easy for you with my annual expenses calendar. You can download both of them for free using the buttons above or by popping your email address in the box at the bottom of the post.
How do you deal with big expenses? #frugalliving #budgeting Click To Tweet
Don’t forget birthdays and holidays
As well as all those big annual expenses, make sure you also make a note of all your planned holidays and any birthdays that you’ll be buying gifts for. Those expenses all add up and can really ruin your budget if you don’t plan for them.
How to deal with big payments
If you can see that they’re coming then you can plan for them. There are several ways to do this. One way I like to deal with these big one-off payments is by using a separate account to pay for them. Once you’ve used the expenses calendar to make a note of all your annual expenses, add up the total. That will be a scary number but don’t panic! Now divide that by 12. That will give you an amount you should be putting into this separate account each month. Then, when one of the payments is due, you simply withdraw the funds necessary. You might need to go back and adjust your monthly budget again to allow for this, but I find this method a really good way of planning for those big expenditures.
Ultimate guide to setting a budget, with free printable worksheets. #frugalliving #budgeting Click To Tweet
I hope that’s been a helpful guide for you to get started with creating your budget. Here’s a quick summary for you;
- Track your spending using an app or good old fashioned paper and pen.
- Categorise your spending.
- Set limits in all the categories, especially those you’re currently overspending in.
- Don’t forget about big annual expenses, holidays and birthdays.
To help get you started, I’ve created both monthly and annual budgeting worksheets that you can download for free. Fill in your details below and I’ll send them straight to your inbox. Happy budgeting! 🙂