How to Use Free Printable Budget Worksheets Effectively

Websites with financial planning information often provide free printable budget worksheets that you can fill out to help develop your household's budget. However, these worksheets may sometimes be confusing or give you only a partial picture of your budget. Missteps in filling out worksheets or having incomplete information may be serious if they lead you to overspend and get yourself into debt. Work carefully to fill out printable worksheets so you get a useful budget that fits your household's needs.

Step 1

Print out three copies of the budget worksheet.

Step 2

Look over the categories of spending listed on the printable worksheet and brainstorm any additional categories in which you spend. Reviewing your receipts, bank account statement, checkbook register or credit card bill from the past month may help you think of additional categories. For example, you might have child care expenses, charitable giving and a gym membership that don't fit into any categories listed on the worksheet. Add these categories to the worksheet.

Step 3

Record your net income in the section of the worksheet that asks for your income. Your net income is the amount you actually get in your paychecks, not the base pay before taxes, withholding and other deductions. If you get paid every other week, you may either multiply your paycheck by 2.17 to calculate your average monthly pay or base your budget on two paychecks per month so you can use the extra paycheck however you want in the months when you get three checks.

Step 4

Fill in the monthly amount for your regular expenses, using recent bills to guide you. Record the high amount, not the average, on bills that fluctuate every month. For example, with your electricity bill, don't record a spring or fall bill as your monthly amount because the bill is typically higher during the seasons when you need heat or air conditioning. If you record the high amount, you ensure that you have enough money budgeted for your bill each month.

Step 5

Use your credit card bills, checking account statements or checkbook to estimate how much you spend per month in categories that don't have fixed expenses. These include groceries, eating out, entertainment, gifts, gas and clothing. If you haven't kept track of these before, make your best guess for how much you'd like to spend in each category.

Step 6

Make a list of bills that you don't pay every month. These may include magazine or newspaper subscriptions, car registration, holiday gifts, vacations and certain types of insurance. Estimate your annual total in each category, divide that total by 12 and enter that amount on your monthly budgeting worksheet. That way, you're putting money aside every month for these annual expenses.

Step 7

Add up your total expenses and compare them to your total income. If your expenses are less than your income, you have a working budget — you may put the remainder of your income into savings. If your income is less than your expenses, you need to adjust the budget to make it balance. Do this by cutting the amount you plan to spend in flexible categories, such as eating out.

Step 8

Keep an itemized log of all of your expenses for a full month after filling out the budget worksheet. This includes everything from your mortgage payment to the candy bar you bought from a vending machine. At the end of the month, fill out a blank printable budget worksheet with your actual numbers for that month.

Step 9

Compare your actual budget to the budget you planned. Pay special attention to whether there were categories in which you spent more than you planned. If so, either make a plan on how you'll cut spending in that category next month to match your original budget, or make a new budget that allows increased spending in that category by decreasing your spending in another category.

Tip

If you're married, print out two extra copies of the budget worksheet. Before you sit down together to fill them out, spend a few minutes filling out your expected amounts in each line. That way you can look over your expectations and try to come to compromises in areas where you differ on how much you think you should be spending.

Things You'll Need

  • Recent pay stubs

  • Recent bills

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