While not the most glamorous of newlywed tasks, creating a budget is a vital part of setting up house. By preparing a budget for your new life, you can prepare to make smarter money decisions and make it easier to save for your future. Instead of allowing the scary sounding task of creating a budget to overwhelm you, break down the process into more manageable parts.
Evaluate your Special Needs
While everyone has certain expense needs, such as food and housing, others are specific to you and your partner. Decide if you have any of these specialized spending needs. For example, if you or your new spouse has a medical condition that requires regular, and potentially expensive, treatment, you must plan this into your budget. List all of the special needs that apply, and remember to include these extras in your budget plan.
Set Budget Goals
Saving is easier if you know what you are saving for. List a couple of things that you would like to be able to afford through more effective money management. These things can be in the immediate future, such as taking a second honeymoon on your first anniversary, or further down the line, such as putting your yet-to-be-conceived child through college. After listing each of these things, write down approximately how much money you will need to save to accomplish each goal.
Plan for Every Month's Expenses
Keep track of your spending over a several-month period by saving all your receipts and credit card statements. Use these materials to determine the average amount that you spend on things such as groceries, clothing, entertainment and trips out to eat. By gathering data and mathematically calculating these averages, you can get a better picture of your true spending habits.
Add Up Your Sources of Income
Use your pay stubs and figure your household monthly income. If some of your income is sporadic in nature, such as cash your hubby earns by completing odd jobs for family members on occasion, do not include these amount -- they are not dependable and, therefore, not something you can rely upon when balancing your household budget.
Figure the Bottom Line
Add up all of the money you spend in an average month using your bills for things like mortgage and car payments as well as the spending averages you figured, and subtract this sum from your monthly household income. If this process leaves you with a negative number or a number that is far smaller than you would like, begin to explore places where you could cut corners. You may find it makes sense to go out to eat less often, or to rent a movie instead of taking a pricey trip to the cineplex.
Make Your Money Grow
Decide how you would like to make your extra money work for you. Instead of just letting this extra money sit in your checking account, create an investment plan, placing this leftover money in an investment. To turn your little bit of saved money into more, consider the stock market, invest it in CDs or deposit it in a simple savings account.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.