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Budget Basics

How do you take a pile of credit union statements, bills and receipts and turn it into a budget? We make it easy with a budget worksheet in five simple steps. Take the answer from each step and either write or type it in a column so you can do the math at the end.

  1. Figure out your income. Collect your paycheck stubs for the month and list that and any other income you receive on a monthly basis. Add it all together and put it in your column.
  2. Figure out your expenses. Using your statements and bills, put down every expense. Start with the larger ones like rent/mortgage, car payment, insurance, food and entertainment. Write them in the column.
  3. Give each income and expense item a time frame. Add some columns to the right of the one you’ve created and indicate if each income or expense happens daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.
  4. Potential expenses. Many people forget to include birthday and holiday gifts or other similar items. Estimate them to cost more, rather than less, to be on the safe side.
  5. Don’t forget the small stuff! Be brutal and don’t leave out a single item. You’ll thank yourself later. Write down every decaf, snack, lunch, movie or any little thing you might usually overlook.

Work in Progress

When you’re done with all of the above, you should have a practical, usable budget worksheet to go off of when creating your actual budget and setting your goals. Keep in mind, this worksheet will probably be a constant work in progress—so feel free to edit it if anything changes.