We talk a lot about budgeting here on the Talking Cents blog. It’s one thing to understand the importance and general concept behind a budget; it’s quite another to implement one. So for the next year, we will be introducing a monthly budget example for you to check out. Hopefully, this September budget example will give you more insight into how a budget can work and how to adapt it to better manage your finances.
September Budget Example: First Time Budgeting Help
The first time you make a budget can feel very overwhelming, but hopefully exciting too! It may take you longer than you thought. You may be more frustrated than you thought. And you may blow through all your budget by the end of the month. Just remember that everything will get easier. And everything will become clearer over the next few months. It takes time to hone a skill and understand your own spending and saving habits more clearly. Here is a simple list of budgeting tools you should have ready to start budgeting.
First, let’s make sure you have the right tools to start budgeting:
- Budget worksheet– paper or digital
- Budget calculator
- Monthly bills (2-3 months worth or the last year to get a more accurate picture of each month)
- Financial Community Guidelines
- Spouse or partner on board
Basically, you need a template and the right tools to fill in the template. The monthly bills will help you determine things like estimated utility costs. The Financial Community Guidelines will provide some background and education on healthy spending habits. Finally, make sure you have your spouse or partner with you. While it’s fine to have one person generally responsible for budgeting, you should be making the decisions together. This is especially true for the first few months of budgeting. Let’s start with our September budget example.
September Budget Example
For the September budget example, we will create a budget for a couple. As the months go on, we will add in a child or two to see how the budget flexes. Savings goals, vacations, and gifts will also be included and considered as needed. Let’s say that our couple wants to go on a nice vacation in the summer. So we will start saving now.
Keep in mind that the following numbers relate to the month. So the salary income will be just the net amount for a particular month.
- Salary 1: $2,700
- Salary 2: $1,800
MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES
- Groceries: $550
- Household Items: $50
- Clothing: $100
- Cellphones (2 phones): $100
- Internet & Cable: $125
- Rent: $1,100
- Electric: $90
- Gas: $50
- Trash: $10
- Auto Maintenance: $40
- Auto Insurance (2 cars): $175
- Health & Dental Insurance: $350
- Renter’s Insurance: $10
- Entertainment: $100
- Netflix/Hulu: $20
- Gym Membership: $60
- Student Loan Payment: $425
- Auto Loan Payment: $175
- Vacation Fund: $200
- Pet Care: $100
- Credit Card Debt Payment: $190
- Savings & Investments: $540?
- TOTAL: -$3,960
Fortunately, this budget still leaves $540. The extra money can be added to savings or used for managing debt. Next time, we will review how this budget did and what changes need to be made. Let’s see how our couple did with their spending next month!