A budget is a financial plan that serves as an estimate of your income (how much money you have coming in) and your expenditures (how much money you will be spending) for a certain period of time.

While budgeting may sound boring and/or restrictive, it doesn’t have to be! Rather than meaning that you don’t get to spend any money or have any fun, a budget simply means that you’re telling your money where to go. If you want to go shopping every month, or take a fun vacation twice per year, you just add it to your budget and plan accordingly!

If you don’t have a budget, you may not have money for goods or services that you want or need. You may even overspend and get into debt (See learning resource Avoiding Debt under Finance for further information on avoiding debt).


Having a budget is helpful in many ways. Here are a few of those ways:

  • Spend within your limits.
  • Avoid debt.
  • Establish investments.
  • Build savings.
  • Help you identify unnecessary expenses.
  • Make changes quickly as your finances change.
    • If you’re going to be renting a new apartment, or receive a raise at work, you can plug these new financial numbers into your already established budget and adjust accordingly.
  • Less stress.
    • For example, since you know where your money is going, you may not have to worry that there’s not enough in your account when you swipe your card for groceries.


Following is a sample budget that is meant to serve as a basic outline that you can adjust according to your personal needs. For example, if you don’t own a home, you may need to change all the homeowner-related expenses to your monthly apartment rental fee.

Your Monthly Budget Worksheet

Net Income Worksheet        
Category Monthly Budget Amount Monthly Actual Amount Difference
Gross Income
Wages, Salary, Bonuses
Interest Income
Investment Income
Other Income (e.g., child support, alimony)
Taxes Withheld and Paycheck Deductions
Federal Income Tax
State and Local Income Tax
Social Security and Medicare Tax
Employer Health Insurance Premium
Employer Retirement Plan Contribution (e.g., 401k)
Net Income Total: (Subtract taxes and deductions from gross income)


Expenses Worksheet        
Category Monthly Budget Amount Monthly Actual Amount Difference
Mortgage or Rent
HOA Fees
Homeowner’s or Rental Insurance
Property Taxes
Home Repairs/Home Maintenance
Home Improvements
Natural Gas or Oil
Telephone/Data Plan
Cable TV/Internet
Restaurants/Fast Food
Family Obligations
Child Support
Health and Medical
Health Insurance Premiums (if not deducted from paycheck above)
Vision Insurance Premiums (if not deducted above)
Dental Insurance Premiums (if not deducted above)
Unreimbursed Medical Expenses/Insurance Co-Pays
Prescription & OTC Medications
Fitness (e.g., Personal Trainer, Gym, Yoga)
Car Loan/Lease Payments
Car Insurance
Car Repairs/Maintenance
Public and Other Transportation (Bus, Subway, Taxi, Ride Share)
Other Transportation Expenses (e.g., tolls, parking expenses)
Debt Payments
Credit Card Payment
Student Loan Payment
Other Loans
Other Insurance
Life Insurance Premiums
School Supplies
Computer Expenses
Subscriptions and Dues
Other Entertainment
Pet Care
Pet Food
Grooming, Boarding, Veterinary
Personal Care
Household Products
Other Personal Care
Savings and Investments
Retirement Accounts (not deducted from paycheck – e.g., IRAs)
Brokerage Accounts
College Fund
Savings/Emergency Savings
Other Miscellaneous
Total Expenses:


Monthly Surplus or Shortage  
Total Monthly Income:
Total Monthly Expenses:
Total Monthly Surplus or Shortage (Income minus Expenses):

The sample budget above is courtesy of: https://www.thebalance.com/basic-monthly-budget-worksheet-1289585


Additional Information: Dave Ramsey has a program called Financial Peace University that can help you develop a budget.



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