Why do I need a household budget?
If you’re constantly struggling to make ends meet each month or simply just getting by until the next pay day, then the chances are that you are not budgeting correctly. A household budget is the best and most accurate way of getting an immediate picture of your finances. It will tell you if you are spending more than you are earning, show the areas where you are spending more than you had budgeted for and allow you to quickly identify where you need to make cuts.
Overspending is a spiral – it can be very hard to get out of once it becomes entrenched. But you can solve this once you start using a proper household budget to gauge how serious the problem is. Solution Money’s Household Budget Planner is designed to give you a real picture of where you are financially each month.
This budget planner is an Excel spreadsheet. That means that you will either need to have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer or one of the free alternatives like Open Office. It will take about an hour to fill in the first time that you use it. You’ll need all your paperwork to hand to ensure that you fill it in accurately:
- Bank statements
- Household bills
- Any other records of spending or income
How to use the budget planner
- Open the spreadsheet
- Save as – Give it the name of the month that you’re planning to work on. This way, you’ll be able to save a new version for each month of the year
- Fill in the month in the Month field on the right just under the title
- Fill in your income amount in the Actual column
- Fill in each of your expenses in each of the relevant Actual columns
- Once you have filled in this first month, you’ll then be able to put budgeted amounts in the relevant Budget columns on subsequent months
- You can add rows by using the insert command or change the names of the existing ones to suit your spending
How to make the budget work for you
This exercise only works if you do it every month. That means keeping track of all your spending and then setting a budget for each area the following month. The ‘at a glance’ graph will show you quickly where you are spending more than you had budgeted for.
We’ll be creating other types of budget planners and checklists to help you with your finances and to make life simpler over the coming weeks and months. Make sure you check back regularly to find out more.