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Do You Have A Strict Budget Plan You Follow?

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Do You Have A Strict Budget Plan You Follow?

Postby Donnchadh » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:42 pm

Yes, I have a budget in Excel. I'm an accountant, so I'm used to dealing with budgets.

The foundation of any budget is good bookkeeping. You need to track your income and your expenses. Set up a budgeting worksheet on Excel, or get Quicken. Quicken will be easier to work with, but it will cost about $60. I listed the categories to start below. Add or delete categories as needed. Each column in Excel should be one month. Each row should be 1 expense category. Make sure to reconcile your checkbook each month. Failing to reconcile your checkbook is like having a condom, but not using it.

Enter income items with a "+" and expenses with a "-". The bottom entry called Surplus/Shortage (Spendable income) should be the sum of all the income and all the expenses. If the bottom entry is a "-", then you need to reduce your expense somewhere

There are some items which are a bit harder to budget. For example, you pay for homeowner's or renter's insurance once a year. Take the bill divide it by 12, and add it to your expenses monthly as an accrued item. Some expenses are unpredictable. For example, you know that your car will eventually need an expensive repair, but you don't know when it will happen. Go through your check register for the last 24 months. Add up all the unexpected items and divide by 24. Then enter that amount on your budget each month.

I suggest you get a book called Bookkeeping for Dummies by Lita Epstein. Please don't be offended by the name. For Dummies is a publishing company. They contract with top authors who are both experts in their field and have the ability to put concepts in simple English.


Wages and Bonuses

Interest Income

Investment Income

Miscellaneous Income

Income Subtotal


Federal Income Tax

State and Local Income Tax

Social Security/Medicare Tax

Income Taxes Subtotal

Spendable Income



Mortgage or Rent

Homeowners/Renters Insurance (actual amount paid)

Property Taxes (actual amount paid)

Home Repairs/Maintenance/HOA Dues

Home Improvements



Water and Sewer

Natural Gas or Oil

Telephone (Land Line, Cell)



Eating Out, Lunches, Snacks


Child Support/Alimony

Day Care, Babysitting


Insurance (medical,dental,vision)

Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses

Fitness (Yoga,Massage,Gym)


Car Payments


Auto Repairs/Maintenance/Fees

Auto Insurance

Other (tolls, bus, subway, taxi)


Credit Cards

Student Loans

Other Loans


Cable TV/Videos/Movies

Computer Expense


Subscriptions and Dues




Grooming, Boarding, Vet



401(K)or IRA

Stocks/Bonds/Mutual Funds

College Fund


Emergency Fund


Toiletries, Household Products


Grooming (Hair, Make-up, Other)

Miscellaneous Expense

Total Investments and Expenses

Surplus/Shortage (Spendable income)
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:16 am

Do You Have A Strict Budget Plan You Follow?

Postby braddford18 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:01 am

One possibility is to create a spreadsheet with groupings of expense categories such as House, Car, Food (home & restaurant), Entertainment, Clothing, Vacations, etc. with sub-categories under each -- for example, House might include mortgage, homeowners or renters insurance, property taxes, utilities (electric, gas, phone, internet, TV), supplies, maintenance (repairs, replacement of appliances, etc.), garden, and the like.
Get as detailed as you need to be for it to make sense to you.

I prefer to budget on an annual basis because expenses may be monthly (multiply by 12), bi-monthly (x6), quarterly (x4), semi-annual (x2), or monthly/one-time.
I sum all of those together then divide by 12 to estimate my average monthly budget.
But do whatever works for you.

Next, gather expenses data.
If your credit card company sends you an annual summary, this is very useful for seeing expense by category.
You should also go through your checkbook to gather expense items.
And don't forget an estimate of things you pay cash for.
There are some expenses that are easily overlooked but should be included such as health care, deductions from your paycheck for social security, Medicare, 401K contributions, etc., as well as things like charitable contributions, annual Roth IRA contributions, etc.
Gathering comprehensive expenses data is the most challenging task.

If you want to take your budgeting to the next level, include an income section that includes wages, dividends, interest, etc.
This will assist you in measuring income versus expenses and guide you as to where you can focus on reducing certain expenses.

Do your budget on an annual basis.
It might sound like a herculean task but it is well worth it in the long run.
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:13 am

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