When you’re trying to rein in your spending and control where the dollars go, a budget might help you plan and then track expenses. Your food budget is one monthly expense that can get out of hand easily. From running to the store to pick up a few odds and ends to relying on carryout meals when you’re short on time, it’s easy for your food bill to soar. If you have basic computer skills, you can use a spreadsheet program to develop a food budget.
Open your spreadsheet to begin entering the data you wish to budget. Place your cursor into the “A” column and pull it to the right to make it large enough to enter the names of the types of food spending you wish to budget.
Enter the heading “Food” in the first row of column A. Skip over to column D and enter “Week 1.” Skip one column, place your cursor in column F and enter “Week 2.” Enter “Week 3” in column H and “Week 4” in column J.
Enter the types of food you will budget into the rows beneath the “Food” heading in column A. For example, you might enter “Groceries,” “Carryout,” “Dining out” and “Miscellaneous.” Place eight blank rows between each type of food.
Skip eight more rows beneath the last type of food and enter “Total.”
Decide how much money you wish to spend on each type of food expense each week. Place this amount in column B to the right of each type of food. For example, you might decide that you will spend $200 in groceries, so enter “$200” in column B in the same row as you entered “Groceries.” Repeat the process, entering a budget amount for each food expense.
Click and hold down your mouse button in the top dollar figure in column B. Drag your mouse down to the bottom dollar figure in column B to highlight the column. With the column highlighted, click your mouse into the B column cell to the right of “Total.” Click the “Formulas” tab and click “AutoSum.” The columns will add and the total will go into the “Total” cell. This is the total amount you want to spend on all types of food expenses for one week.
Track your food expenditures as they occur throughout the week. In the “Week 1” column, whenever you spend money on groceries, carryout, dining out or miscellaneous, enter the amount you spent. You will have enough rows to enter one entry each day for each type of food expense.
Click and hold down your mouse button in the top dollar figure in column D to total the column at the end of the week. Drag your mouse down to the bottom dollar figure in column D to highlight the column. With the column highlighted, click your mouse in the D column cell to the right of “Total.” AutoSum the column again and the total will appear in the D column cell.
Compare your expenditure total with the amount you budgeted for food expenses. If you were under budget, you might be able to spend more the next week. If you were over budget, look or ways to spend less the next week.
Repeat the same process for each of the four weeks of the month. At the end of the month, compare your weekly totals with your budget. By planning and then tracking your spending, you probably will notice that you do not spend as much money. Or you might find that you spend more than you thought in one or more categories and can adjust your habits as needed.
- "Practical PC;" June Jamrich Parsons and Dan Oja
- Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images