How to Set Up a Monthly Budget

As you start your new married life, you'll need to create a budget to guide your spending. Now that you're a duo, you should focus on being a bit more accountable for your spending practices. By creating a budget, you and your spouse can ensure that you're on the same page in terms of finances, and work together to map out a bright fiscal future for yourselves as a couple.

Monitor your finances closely for two to three months. During this period, keep all of your receipts, bills, pay stubs and bank statements. Use this information to create a clearer picture as to how you're spending your money.

Calculate your monthly income. Add up all of your reliable sources of income to determine your monthly income. If some of your sources of income are only occasional, such as earnings from a seasonal job, don't include these amounts in your calculations.

Calculate your mandatory monthly expenses. Add up all of the bills you saved during your two or three month trial period. Divide the total you receive by the number of months from which you included bills to determine your average monthly mandatory expenses.

Determine how much you spend, on average, on incidentals. Divide your gathered receipts into categories, creating a pile of food receipts, a stack of clothing purchase receipts and a collection of receipts for entertainment. Add up each pile and divide by the number of months for which you collected receipts to determine your averages.

Add your mandatory expenses and incidental averages. This figure tells you how much money you have going out each month. Hopefully, it'll be smaller than the figure you calculated for your monthly income.

Subtract this figure from your monthly income. If you have money left over after you complete this calculation, your budget is already in the green -- a great start!

Make modifications to your incidental spending if necessary. Since you can’t change your mandatory expenses, you must make up for budgetary shortcomings by cutting incidentals. If you must cut from this category, inspect your figures to determine where you are overspending, and cut spending in that category accordingly.

Create a plan for dealing with extra money at the month’s end. You could place this money in a simple savings account. Alternatively, you could invest it in a higher-yield option. Whichever course of action you choose, stick to that course faithfully to build your nest egg.