One of the best things anybody can do to improve their financial situation is to consistently construct and implement a monthly budget of expenses, income and savings. This activity costs little to nothing and yet it has the power to transform your spending and saving habits. This is because a monthly budget planner forces you to actively think about your expenses and your savings, and decide how you should manage them. Of course, all of us have a general idea about how we spend our money, but when everything is down on paper you might be surprised to realize just how many little things are draining your budget. So here is what you need to know about the printable budget planner.
Constructing a monthly budget is very easy with the free online tools available today. There are many versions of a printable budget planner available online, for free or for a small fee (mostly under $1). This means that you can easily find a version of a printable budget planner that fits your spending habits the best and that will make it easier to construct a monthly budget. While the savings and income categories are pretty standard in all versions, the items in the expenses category can vary from one version to another. For example, items such as pet care, child care, child support, charity/donations and others are not included in many budget planners. If these items represent an expense on a regular basis, then you would definitely benefit from a printable budget planner that covers these items.
Setting up a Printable Budget Planner
Another source of variation among budget planners is the level of detail in the expense categories. For example, some budget planners include credit card expenses for up to four different credit cards, while in other planners all credit card expenses are lumped under one item. Also, regarding children, some printable budgets list various child-related expenses
separately, such as toys, babysitting, baby products, excursions, etc. while others put all these expenses under a single item such as child care. The more detailed the printable budget planner is, the easier it will be to stick to your budget. When the allotted amounts are spelled out for each item separately then there isn’t a lot of wriggle room, which is what you need if you don’t want to overspend.
Lastly, another distinguishing quality among budget planners is whether they track only budgeted amounts per item, actual amounts per item, or both. If a printable budget planner has only two columns, one with categories and another with amounts, then it can be used either for planning savings, expenses and income in advance or for tracking these categories after the fact – after the month has passed. However, probably the most instructive budget planners are those with three columns – one for the categories, one for planned amounts and one for actual amounts. Those budget planners will show how your spending is distributed over various categories and also how successfully you are sticking to the budgeted amounts for various categories. Such information is crucial when it comes to managing personal finances!
Being confronted with your expenses, income and savings (or lack thereof) can be a sobering experience. The important thing is not to panic and to realize that you are already taking steps to improving your financial situation. A printable budget planner displayed at your desk or at another visible spot can serve as a reminder of this. Your first objective after constructing a monthly budget is to make sure that you stick to it consistently. Then, once you’ve tracked expenses, income and savings for a few months, you should analyze your spending and saving habits and look for ways to improve them. For example, you should pick a few categories where you are spending more than necessary and reallocate some of the funds to paying off debt or starting an emergency fund. Having a monthly budget planner makes it much easier to manage your debt, savings, and investments. Once it becomes a part of your normal routine, the next step in managing your personal finances better is to look into tools that can help you make progress with these important categories as well.