How to Budget Your Monthly Expenses

Budgeting, no matter how boring it may sound, is a crucial part of making things work financially with your partner or spouse. Working together to achieve goals is the cornerstone to any relationship. Take the time, sit down together and hammer out a budget that fits your needs and ultimately leads you to the financial freedom needed to make your goals a reality.

Go through your bank statements, paychecks and bills from the past year. If you have any investments, include those in your organization too. From there, organize into three piles: Income, bills and extra expenses. Once that is completed, sit down with your partner to discuss not only your monthly goals, but also your plans for the future. Those may include plans for a down payment on a house, saving for a car, planning for a wedding or making plans for children down the line. Be sure you are both on the same page; this process must be a team effort to be effective.

Combine the monthly income of you and your partner. This includes paychecks, any sort of side businesses, such as an eBay account, or any type of freelance work. Think of this as the pool in which you’ll be able to play.

Look at your pile of expenses and characterize them as either needs or wants. Bills are the most important of the bunch, especially the household bills that are needs, such as utilities. It is just as important to pay these monthly bills on time, as it is to pay your rent or mortgage on time. Doing so leads to an easier financial future. In your expenses, include your bills, any type of car expenses, insurance, groceries, credit card payments and anything that you spend money on. While doing this, talk with your partner to see if anything that you pay for is no longer needed or could be cut back, and take note of it.

Compare the monthly income and monthly expenses to each other. You should be making at least three times as much as your basic rent or mortgage. If you and your partner see that your current expenses exceed your monthly income, you need to talk about making serious cutbacks.

Cut out the expenses that you no longer deem necessary, even if they do not exceed your income. The point of a budget is to follow a plan that allows you to save money for the future. So, look at some of those bills or expenses and figure out what needs to go. Maybe it’s the cable TV service with the high-definition sports package. Perhaps it means cutting back on eating out. Whatever it is, talk it over with your partner and stick to the plan.

About the Author

Travis Ames has written for numerous publications since 2007 and has been writing instructional articles online since 2010. His areas of expertise are wide and include travel, politics, arts and entertainment, technology and finance. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon where he will begin teaching in the fall of 2011.