Budget Goals: What Should Your Budget Sheet Look Like & Where Should Your Money Be Going?

Making and sticking to a budget is difficult. So many questions can come into play: What’s the right budget guide to follow? How do I track my spending? What do I prioritize? Here, we will help you understand what your budget sheet should look like, where you should be spending (and saving!), and more.

Begin a Financial Self-Assessment

To start your budgeting plan, try to put all of your fixed and variable expenses on a piece of paper or spreadsheet. Your fixed monthly expenses are recurring payments like your mortgage or rent, car, insurance, utilities, phone, and student loans (and don’t forget expenses like subscriptions and membership fees). Next, calculate an average for your variable expenses, including what you typically spend per month on food, medical expenses, and other purchases. Once you have an idea of your total monthly expenses, figure out how much money you earn monthly (after taxes). This will give you a more accurate picture of how much money you have for extracurricular activities, emergency funds, retirement plans, and savings accounts.

Choose a Budget Plan

After your financial assessment, your next step is choosing a budget. While budget goals differ for each individual, we recommend trying the 50/30/20 rule, according to Nerd Wallet. With this rule, you are supposed to spend 50% of your income on the things you need (such as groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, insurance, minimum payments on loans and credit cards, and child care). After that, the percentage goes down to 30%, which is allocated toward your “wants.” This category can include dining out, purchasing gifts, and entertainment and travel expenses. The last 20% is dedicated to savings and debt repayment. We suggest doing a half-and-half situation: If you have $100 left at the end of your weekly paycheck, send $50 to savings and $50 to your lowest debt payment.

When in Doubt, Carry Cash

If you are constantly overspending, try carrying cash with you everywhere you go – and leave those credit and debit cards at home! This way, you only spend the money you have. Limits will set boundaries, and, eventually, you’ll understand how much money should be spent on extracurriculars and nights out.

Don’t Give Up

Giving up is the easy way out. But if you throw the towel in, you could find yourself in even more debt! Instead, go into your budget headstrong and know that some editing and tweaking may need to happen. Many beginning budgeters admit that they didn’t save any money or continued to overspend in their very first weeks. That’s okay; it’s a process! Dip your toes back in the water the next month and try again!

Do you have any surefire budgeting tips? Share them with us in the comments below!

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