Accurately tracking your family expenses and income can help you balance your financial priorities and responsibilities. Summarizing your income and allocating your expenses can help you maintain a positive cash balance and prepare for anticipated expenses. If your budget does not balance, you may need to look for ways to cut expenses, or increase your income. Excess income could be put into an emergency fund for unanticipated expenses, or invested.
Write down all your sources of income. Focus on your actual take-home income, not your income before taxes or deductions to make the budget process easier. If your income totals vary, create an estimate based on your prior periods of income and adjust it based on any decreases or increases you anticipate in the near future.
Create a list of expenses that you pay on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. These expenses could include routine payments for housing, insurance, loan payments, health care payments and child care. You should also include variable expenses such as utilities, anticipated automotive expenses, clothing and other expenses. Estimate your expenses wherever you do not have an exact value. Note the payment frequency and payment amount on your list next to each expense.
Format your spreadsheet. You can opt to place your data on a physical sheet of paper, or you can use a computer-based spreadsheet program. Along the top of your spreadsheet, list periods of time. You can divide your budget into weekly, monthly or quarterly segments. Place income and expense category names along the left column of your spreadsheet. Consider using salary, rental income, investments, food, mortgage and auto expenses categories. Customize your categories to your financial situation and lifestyle.
Calculate the amount of money that should be placed into each category for each period of time. For example, if you are constructing a monthly family budget, add all salary payments for all family members to place under the “Salary” category.
Insert all calculated totals onto your spreadsheet under the correct income or expense category and time frame. Place expenses as negative amounts and income as positive amounts for easy calculations.
Summarize all totals at the bottom of each column and for the total spreadsheet. These totals should allow you to see your financial status for each time period. If your expenses are more than your income, you will end up with a negative total. If your spending is less than your income, you should have a positive or zero sum.