How to Lay Out a Budget on a Paper Worksheet


Everyone needs a budget to manage their finances responsibly. You can buy budgeting software to use on your home computer, online or on your smartphone. Budgeting software allows you to go above and beyond with your budget, creating graphs and pie charts, importing your budget to other programs or comparing your net worth with your neighbors. It can also cause headaches and may waste your time if you just wanted a simple monthly budget. As an alternative, you can create your own simple and easy-to-use budgeting worksheet with a pen and paper.

Divide your worksheet into three columns. The first column represents the title or category of the expense, such as rent payment, utilities or groceries. The second column represents the cost of the expense. The third column represents any income you receive.

Determine your monthly take-home income. Label the first row of your worksheet as "Income." Add your total monthly income in the third column of the first row.

Gather copies of your recent bills to determine your monthly fixed expenses. For example, you may need copies of utility bills, cell phone bills, monthly credit card payments or car insurance payments.

List each fixed expense as a separate category in the first column. List the cost of each expense in the second column next to the category.

Gather copies of recent receipts or bank statements to estimate your monthly variable expenses. Any expense that you pay regularly, but varies in price counts as a variable expense. For example, groceries and entertainment count as variable expenses. Add the totals from recent receipts to get an estimate of how much you spend in each variable expense category every month.

List each type of variable expense you have as a separate category on your worksheet. For example, groceries would go into one column. Write down your estimated spending in the second column next to the category name.

Subtract all of your expenses from your income to determine how much money you have left over each month, or if you need to re-evaluate your budget.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you include contributions to monthly statements and debt payments in your monthly budget.
  • Do not underestimate the cost of your variable expenses. Doing so will cause you to go over budget.

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