Take stock of your finances so you can understand where your money is going and make adjustments.
At Consolidated Credit, we believe that knowledge really is power. The more you know about your finances and how you spend your money, the easier it is to balance your budget and achieve financial stability. The first step to building a successful budget is to total up your income and expenses. If you have credit card debt to pay off, you should also detail those debts so you can make a plan to pay them off. These budgeting worksheets can help you get started.
Budgeting worksheet tips
Always plan for the income you receive, not the income you should receive
Planning a budget around income that’s inconsistent can quickly lead to credit card debt. So, for example, let’s say you are supposed to receive child support payments every month. However, the payments don’t come in consistently every month. You should not include that money in your income calculation.
Take a 3-month average for regular expenses with no set cost.
Many flexible and discretionary expenses have varying costs from month-to-month. For these types of expenses, you want to set a practical spending target that you can aim to stay below every month. To do this, take an average of what you spent over the past 3 months.
For bills with no set cost, set a high target so you can always afford them.
Fuel and gas bills, mobile plans and even a cable package may vary each month. For any bill that’s a flexible expense, review your bills from the past year. Find the highest-cost month and set that amount as your target. Then, on months you don’t spend that much, you have extra money to cover unexpected expenses or put to in savings.
Balance your expenses versus your income
Once you have the income and expense worksheet completed, compare the totals. At a minimum, you must spend less than you earn. If you don’t, you will need to rely on credit cards to cover daily expenses, which will lead to financial hardship. If your expenses total more than your income, you need to cut back. Ideally, you should only spend about 75 percent of what you earn. This will allow you to easily cover unexpected expenses and save extra money.
Recognize that a budget is not set in stone
Both your income and expenses will change over time. That means you need to revisit your budget anytime you get a new bill, start regularly spending on a new expense, or have a change in your income.
Review your budget regularly to make sure it stays balanced
If you see that you’re regularly overspending or using credit cards to cover daily expenses, you need to adjust your budget. If you need to increase a spending target on one expense, you may need to decrease or cut back on another.
Use your budget to pay off debt faster
You can review your expense worksheet to find expenses that you are willing to temporarily cut or at least cutback. Then you can use the credit card debt worksheet to prioritize your balances for repayment, either from highest to lowest APR or from lowest to highest balance. You can learn more in our free guide: How to Reduce Credit Card Debt.
Budgeting worksheets can’t fix everything. If your debt is making it difficult to balance your budget, we can help.