It’s important to live on a budget and not overspend these days. The best way to do this is to use a personal budget worksheet that you refer to every month.

Putting together a personal budget is not hard.

It’s staying within your budget that’s challenging.

The goal is to spend less than you make.

And hopefully, you have a little leftover for savings and other financial goals.

The key is to know how much you make, how much you spend, and how much you owe. Recording this info onto a personal budget worksheet gives you a good picture of your financial position.

Once you have a budget worksheet filled out, you can refer to it month to month to see where to make adjustments, if needed. A budget worksheet isn’t set in stone. Chances are, you’ll be like most people who will have to make changes to their budget.

As your life changes – you go to college, move out on your own, get married, have kids, retire, so will your budget.

Let’s explore the things that will go into your budget worksheet, starting with income. Think of all the ways you earn money.

free budget worksheet


Sources of Income

  • Salary
  • Bonus
  • Commissions
  • Sales
  • Freelance Work
  • Blogging Income
  • Child Support
  • Rental Property Income
  • Interest Income
  • Social Security
  • Pension
  • eBay income

Pre-Tax Budget Items

  • Retirement plan contributions (eg. 401K)
  • Health insurance premiums (Medical, Dental, Vision)
  • Contributions to HSA or FSA
  • Employee stock purchase plan
  • Union dues and other job-related expenses
  • Child support
  • Disability Insurance

Bear in mind that adjustments to pre-tax items will affect your personal budget differently than items paid with your net income. Let’s say you decided to take $50 from your retirement (pre-tax money) and put it into groceries.

When your paycheck comes, you’ll notice that the extra $50 that you thought you were getting, will actually show up as a smaller amount because taxes will have be taken out.

After-Tax Budget Items

  • Savings Account
  • Vacation Savings
  • Saving for a house or other financial goal
  • Rent or Mortgage Payment
  • Home or Renter’s Insurance
  • Property Taxes
  • HOA fee
  • Home Repairs
  • Household Items
  • Furniture
  • Housecleaning Service
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Garbage
  • Gas (for heat and cooking)
  • Internet
  • Landline Phone
  • Cell Phone
  • Cable
Debt Payments
  • Credit Card Payments
  • Student Loans
  • Other Loans
  • Groceries
  • Eating Out
  • Coffee
  • Bar
  • Car Payment
  • Car Insurance
  • Gas
  • Smog Check, License Renewal, and Taxes
  • Car Maintenance
  • Parking
  • Toll
  • Public Transportation
Personal Care
  • Clothing
  • Salon or Barber Shop
  • Toiletries
  • Laundromat/Dry Cleaning
  • Gym
  • Massage
  • Doctor and Dentist Visits (or include in your Health Savings Account budget, if applicable)
  • Prescriptions (or include in your HSA or FSA budget, if applicable)
  • Childcare/Babysitting
  • Baby Supplies – Diapers, Formula, Wipes
  • Lessons/Activities
  • Allowance
  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Fees
  • Supplies
  • Movie Tickets
  • Concerts
  • Music Purchases
  • Video Games
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • DVD Rentals
  • Pay-Per-View
  • Tithe
  • Gifts
  • Charity
  • Pet Supplies and Vet Expenses
  • Free Spending Money or Personal Allowance
  • Contingency Amount

You may have to adjust your budget every month until you can find out how much you really need to allocate in each category. Spending changes month to month so don’t be afraid to make changes.

Movie production budgets typically set aside a contingency amount of 20%. It’s not a bad idea to leave yourself a little extra for those unexpected purchases you’ll run into. It doesn’t have to be 20% but figure out what works best for you.

For items that you don’t pay for every month, such as car insurance, divide the total cost per year by 12. This will give you a monthly cost to add to your budget worksheet.

Want even more tips on creating a budget? Check out my new ebook, Budgeting Made Easy.

2 Comments on Budgeting 101: How to Get Started

  1. Chris
    October 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm (2 years ago)

    This is a well-written article on strategic budging. Although, pay yourself first is the first step to saving. I also suggest that the key component to everyone’s retirement plan should include life insurance.

  2. Tia
    March 16, 2016 at 7:42 am (7 months ago)

    Great tips for the basics of setting a budget!