Always keep receipts until they clear the bank, for your budget records or in case of possible need to return an item to the store, and for tax deduction purposes.
Simple Budget Set-Up Without a Computer
Use the printable sheets provided on this blog for setting up your budget and keep it in a three-ring binder or something similar so you can add and remove pages without a problem from week to week.
Simple budget template
The first sheet you will fill out will be the Income/Expense Sheet to find the total profit coming in and expenses going out. (Later we will talk about what to do if they do not match). Copy the PDF below with a couple of extras (click image to download the PDF or download our Excel Spreadsheet) to a tablet or computer.
First, list all your income for the month. Don’t forget to include child support if you are either making or receiving child support payments or any other income along with your weekly pay. Then put the total at the bottom. List your spouse separate.
Now list all your bills under the headings that match, don’t forget to list things that are due quarterly or once a year like your car tax and tags or insurance. Remember this is monthly so anything you pay once must be divided by 12.
Total all the expenses and list the monthly total at the bottom.
For this example, our total for monthly expenses was $3416.00, and our income was $3425.00, so the surplus of $9.00 goes into the extra line #13 in Miscellaneous. This will bring both of the totals at the bottom to the same amount. If your pay varies from each week, you will have to budget for an approximate quantity, and the additional category will change each week. Save this money to use for weeks that fall short in the other categories.
The second sheet will be the Basic Monthly Budget Sheet (PDF or Excel Spreadsheet), which will divide your income into each class as needed. It will be available when the bill is due.
You can divide each category according to the comparable week due each month and allow one week for mailing. Some bills that are large are more easily split evenly between multiple weeks.
(Click the image above to download the PDF version or download the Excel version here.)
Start by listing the categories of the Income/Expense sheet you just finished, onto the Monthly Budget Sheet. In the center list the monthly amount needed for each item (monthly allocations).
Now starting with the first pay week, show how you want to break up your checks to cover the expenses (H for the husband & W for the wife) that will be due the following week. In our example, Rent will be due, and we will need groceries for the week. Notice in the example you can group anything that makes sense to you, such as the “groceries” account and “entertainment/recreation” will come out of the wife’s check in week one. Fill as many accounts as you can until the money runs out. Put any extra in the extra line at the bottom but don’t go over the amount you budgeted for unless the paycheck is larger than the value shown. If you have checks with a greater number than you budgeted for you can put this money into any accounts that have a tendency to run out fast. Notice that this person kept the husband and wife deposit separate by the color of the line.
In the example below the wife’s checks are shown with a W, and the husband is on the tan line with an H. Her extra babysitting money appears with the notation of “BS” in the blue.
The total at the bottom of the week should match all the money that is going into the budget for that week.
Notice the husband only gets paid every two weeks, and the wife gets a check every week.
You will repeat this process until all four of the weeks represent how the money is to be used for all the income you will get for that month. Also, the totals for what is needed and what you have as income is the same. (see the example below)
Next, you will title each Monthly Expense Category page with one of every category in your budget. Print one for each division and about ten extra because you will be adding these to the binder as they fill up from week to week.
(Click the image above to download the PDF version or download the Excel version here.)
For example, the first page could be Rent/Mortgage; the second might be Groceries, the third Gasoline or whatever you choose. Continue with one category for each page until all sections of the Monthly Budget have been individually listed. One per page.
You should have a page for every expense you have through the month and include your personal allowance. This is the cash you put in your wallet for spending each week so that every part of your paycheck is represented on these pages, even savings. Punch holes in these pages and put them in the three-ring binder, in an order that matches your Monthly Budget category list. Don’t forget any auto drafts you might have. These pages will show how much money you have in each account of your budget as you add to it each month. Each pay period you will enter the amount that the monthly budget page tells you, on that page for that week. (see above)
The last sheets you need to print is about ten copies of the Deposit/ Expense History page shown below. You can staple these together at the top corner, so they are separate from the binder. This makes it easier to flip through and match figures in the budget and balance the receipts you are holding. Most binders have a rear pocket that you could store this in.
(Click the image above to download the PDF version or download the Excel version Here.)
This page will be your checkbook or bank ledger for your budget.
Begin by entering your checking balance on the first line of your Deposit/ Expense History Sheet, it looks like a checkbook register and works the same way. Be sure that the balance you begin with is the balance you will have after everything that is outstanding on debit cards and checks right now, has cleared.
The example above shows the starting balance; the husbands first check deposit for week 1 and the wife’s check for week 1. Then you see the rent being paid on the Monthly Expense Category sheet, shown in the withdrawal column.
You will now load your accounts with that balance according to your amounts from the Basic Monthly Budget Sheet. Keep in mind to preload accounts for additional weekly costs for all bills that are less than four weeks till their due date.
Pre-loading.- A budget is designed to break up your paychecks over the course of a month to have the money waiting for you when a bill is due. So when you start, some money will have to be assigned to some of your Monthly Expense Category pages before the bill is due. This is called preloading the account.
It is easiest to begin week one on the first Friday (or payday) of the month. However, it is not necessary because most bills are due at different times, so it is OK to start in the middle of a month. For example, if you load and begin this budget on the third Friday in a month, and you have bills due this week, you will need to preload those accounts with the total amount due for those bills.
Let’s use a water bill that is due seven days after the day this budget begins, so you will need to mail it now. As you preload all of your accounts, this account would need the entire amount loaded. However, another account that doesn’t need to get paid until the first week of next month only needs to be preloaded whatever would be the typical week two and week three amounts.
Things that are only paid once a year or a quarter will need to be adjusted accordingly. For instance, if it is April, and your car tax is paid every December, you should count the number of weeks since you paid the tax and multiply by your weekly amount to estimate your preload. If your car tax is $288 a year, divided by 12 months would be $24 a month or $6 a week. So if 17 weeks have passed since you last paid the tax, then you need to preload 18 weeks (to allow a week for mailing) which would be about $108.
Once your budget planner is set-up and each Monthly Expense Category preloaded. All deposits or expenditures are listed on the Deposit/Expense History sheet. It is then added or deducted from each Monthly Expense Category as established by your budget template. Indicate each item on the Deposit/ Expense History sheet as added to the budget. Use a check mark or symbol of your choice so that you will know that it is now in your budget. Always add the total of all category pages and check it off as matching with your Deposit/ Expense History sheet with an indication of some kind that you will remember. A small pencil line beside that last entry is usually enough to be able to spot easily where you left off and can be erased as you move on with new entries.
Include an extra category both in your Basic Monthly Budget sheet and as a Monthly Expense Category page for surprises. Anticipate both deposits and deductions, so that you do not have to rework your budget for one-time items. This may include income tax refunds or a fee for a school field trip that has unexpectedly come up. If possible, leave a small balance in this account for such financial surprises, as these always seem to occur when we least expect them. Replace that “extra” money as soon as possible. When you can afford it, add a small amount of “extra” to your regular budgeted amount usually the remainder of a paycheck after the deposits are made.
Help with money problems
Free checks are given the first week of a month that has five Fridays (or paydays) in them. Free checks are to be used in any way needed and do not get loaded into the budget schedule as a regular week but can be loaded in to catch up any account pages that have developed negative balances. Make wise choices with the expenses and don’t forget that groceries and gas are still going to be needed that week unless those accounts are still well padded. If you get paid every two weeks, remember the free check is only half of that money and the other week will go into the budget.
Free checks are particularly useful for:
- Reducing debt faster.
- Setting aside money for a car or saving for a house down payment.
- Buying something badly needed such as a car repair.
- Alternatively, whatever you choose as you rebuild a bad credit history.
Building up a savings account for emergencies or investing are good uses for free checks also. In time, you will see your money problems disappear as weekly bills get paid on time, and there is money in the account when you need it.
If There Isn’t Enough Money To Preload Or To Cover Your Budget:
If your income is sufficient to cover your established budget, but there’s not adequate to cover your preloads to get started, there are a couple of options. Look for a temporary financial boost such as selling something of value that you can do without. Perhaps cash in a savings bond or sell athletic equipment. Taking on a short-term or extra job, or look for possible cutbacks in your budget that can be temporary until you get “on budget” or permanent if income/budget do not match.
Remember the free check, so if you have to cut out your clothing expense or eating out or date night for a couple of weeks, so you do not have to include any money in these accounts temporarily. The free check can help cover some of these expenses until your budget is up and running smoothly. That way you do not have to pre-load anything that is not a regular monthly bill. However, you must preload the ones you cannot skip, like the rent or a power bill.
Another option is to start your budget in a five paycheck month and use the first paycheck for preloading. That way you have four more paychecks that month to be used to get you on track. It is also ok to have a small negative (use red) in a couple of accounts if you can see that they will get caught up in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, other accounts with higher balances will cover the differences.
For instance, if you have two hundred dollars preloaded in auto taxes, but a twenty-eight dollar negative in “clothing expense” go ahead and start your budget now, instead of waiting two weeks to have everything covered. Just try not to spend anything from accounts that are negative, if possible, so that you can get caught up sooner. So of course, you will need to pay attention to your overall balance, while you have negatives, to prevent overspending even when one account looks like there is plenty of money in it.
Remember that once you load the Monthly Expense Category pages with the total amounts for each item, you are no longer spending according to the quantity that is in your checking account. You can only spend the amount that is shown on that category page for that item.
If your checking account has $2000.00, and the category page for eating out only has $22.00 you need not spend more than the $22.00 for eating out. All the other money is for your other bills in the other accounts. The key to any budget is sticking to this rule. However, it is YOUR budget. If you have to use some money from clothing or date night to buy fast food, just make sure you show the transfer on the Monthly Expense Category sheets. Record these as a subtraction and a deposit to the correct account, or you will ruin your budget in no time.
If you have financial problems, and there isn’t enough money to cover your budget, and you are getting further and further in debt, you still need to plan what is coming in and your monthly amount you are in debt for. Also, you will need to cut anything you can from your budget that you can do without. Along with trying to earn additional income try cutting out things like:
- Cable TV (ouch!)
- Eating Out
Are You Ready To Lower Your Car Payment?
Along with building a new budget, we can also show you how to lower your car payment and get a better interest rate even if you have low credit scores.
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Refinance Your Car For Cash to Start Your Budget
You can lower your car payments by refinancing your car loan and get cash to preload your new budget. If you cannot afford a car payment now, you may find you can after setting up and running your budget for a time as you gather free checks for a down payment. Even a part-time job on the weekends might do the trick for you.
Refinancing will allow you to remove your car’s equity in the form of cash. You can use this money to pay off some high-interest loans or preload your budget accounts. Let us show you how a car refinance loan is better than a personal loan for the same credit rating.
If your car payment is too high, and you have paid for it for some time then refinancing may help you out of that large payment. If you have many debts, such as credit cards, pay off the smallest balance first and pay more than the minimum payment when you can.
This is perfect for reducing debt as you rebuild bad credit. Our “How to Pay For a Divorce or Child Custody Lawyers” blog can show you a real-life example of getting cash back and lowering your car payment.
When that debt is paid, take the amount you were paying on that debt and add it to the budgeted amount for the next lowest debt. This will knock the debt out faster, and the interest you would have paid by making minimum payments to someone else stays in your pocket.
Remember that with this simple budget, about every thirteen weeks; there is an extra week (free check) that can help you get caught up.
If you have never been on a budget before, these concepts may seem very different to you. Hopefully, you will find that budgeting provides a feeling of freedom, and you may be able to afford a car payment.
You need to manage your money, instead of letting the economy and others manage your money problems. Planning a simple auto loan budget is a perfect way to get ahead financially, by keeping more of your money where it belongs, under your control.
It is important to discuss your budget with your spouse or roommate if you have joint expenses, so spending does not get out of hand without checking the balance in the expenses sheets before spending money.
The budget can be set up for two paychecks by listing the check deposits in the budget as “H” for husband and “W” for the wife, or you can use initials. The Basic Monthly Budget sheet has a place for two checks a week so two incomes can be used for your budget.
Just remember if you get paid every two weeks, the free check is only for one week. The other half of the check still has to go into the budget. If the budget with your spouse’s check also, that means two free checks at the same time, and that is pretty sweet.
That extra boost can provide the down payment for that car loan budget you need. Consumers need to organize their finances before they apply for a subprime auto loan and budget their payments. Don’t forget that you can check your credit score for free with Valley Auto Loans. Moreover, Valley Auto Loans can help you Refinance your existing car loan, and that could free up some money to preload your budget and give you lower car payments.
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We at Valley Auto Loans hope this free online budget plan will help you get out of debt and repair bad credit and assist you in getting the car you need and still make it possible to pay your rent. If you find this simple budget was helpful, please pass this along to your friends that need a reducing debt plan. Also, feel free to print off the simple budget sheets to help them improve their personal finances eliminate money problems.