How do you prepare a budget? 3

Don’t be put off by the overwhelming spreadsheet budget planners.  Your budget doesn’t need to look pretty or be overly complicated, it just needs to help you organise your household income and expenditure.

Firstly, work out how much money your household has coming in from all sources and note the frequency of this income.  If the majority of the income (e.g. wages/salary) comes in fortnightly, then you’ll want to determine a fortnightly budget because this will be easier to stick to.

The simplest way to create your own personalised budget is to list all of your expenses.  Think about everything that you spend money on over the year.

Just write a quick list (don’t worry about how much these expenses are at this stage).  Start by thinking about everything that you spend money on.

Some categories to jog your memory are:

  • Pay yourself first – 10%
  • Housing (rent, home loan, rates/land taxes, insurance, repairs/maintenance)
  • Utilities (electricity, water, phone, internet, gas, satellite/cable TV)
  • Vehicles (petrol/gas, registration/road taxes, insurance, safety inspections (WOF in NZ), repairs/maintenance)
  • Food and entertainment (groceries, takeaways, dining out, leisure/hobbies, spending/”mad” money)
  • Healthcare (doctor, dentist, optometrist, prescriptions, etc.)
  • Children (day care, school fees, uniforms, stationery, activities/lessons (e.g. swimming/music/sport) etc.)
  • Clothing, drycleaning, footwear, haircuts
  • Other insurances (household contents, medical, life etc.)
  • Pets (veterinary costs, food, accessories)
  • Debts (include all loans (other than home loan), hire purchases, and credit card payments)

Once you have written down every expense, then write next to each item how much and how often this expense occurs.  E.g. rent $400 weekly, or house insurance $900 annually.

Now you can calculate (or have a spreadsheet do it for you) what this expense would be if you were paying it fortnightly.  If the expense is annually for example, you can divide it by 26 to know how much you need to put aside each fortnight to cover the expense when it arises.

There are some free budget planners available, such as this one at Sorted, and these ones at Google Docs.  I recommend you create your own though because everyone has different expenses.  The unused categories make generic spreadsheets much bulkier and scarier than you need them to be.

Once you have all your income and expenses recorded, then you can see how much is left over at the end of each week, month, and year.

You work hard for your money, so make sure you keep some of it for yourself!


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3 thoughts on “How do you prepare a budget?

  • David

    Good sensible stuff Meg. I used to do this in my younger days before my wife took over as CFO 🙂 After working out how much I needed per fortnight, I would put that amount into a separate bank account. Then when the bills came due, there was no stress as the money was there. This takes a little time to become really effective eg. if you have a big bill due to be paid soon after starting this strategy, but over the course of a year, these will smooth out, and it will be smooth sailing. Discipline is key and the separate account certainly helped. The other thing I did, was to take my pocket money (“mad money”) out in cash and when it was gone, it was gone.