Struggling to keep your finances in check? Not sure how to even get started managing your money? A printable budget planner can help you take back control of your spending. Download your budget binder today and get started on creating a financial plan that works for you. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be back on track in no time!
This post contains affiliate links, including those from Amazon, which means I may make a commission on sales at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Check out my Disclaimer for more information!
Get Your Printable Budget Planner Setup
The first step to getting your finances in order is to get your budget binder set up. You’ll need a printable budget binder to use – click here to get mine! I use it myself to manage my money so I know it works.
The benefit of using a printable budget planner is that it’s cheaper than buying an already-bound notebook. You can also customize it by adding pages that fit your own needs and removing anything that doesn’t work for you.
Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Printable budget binder
- Three hole punch
- Binder divider tabs
- Printer and paper to print your binder
Once you have your binder PDF, go ahead and print it all out and hole-punch all the pages. Decide how you want your sections broken up – I usually do goals, budget, debt, and savings sections.
Once you have all the pages in your binder organized and ready to go, you can get started creating your budget!
Understanding Your Income and Expenses
Creating a budget is all about understanding where your money is going – not about restricting yourself or taking all fun out of your life. Take a few minutes to take stock of what you earned this month and what you are spending your money on. Make sure you add up all sources of income, including wages from full-time or part-time jobs, side gigs, benefits, and any other payments.
Then list out your regular expenses such as rent, food, utilities, insurance payments, student loans, credit card bills, and other household costs. Estimate the amount you will spend on entertainment, clothing, and other miscellaneous purchases.
My favorite way to do this is by printing off six months’ worth of bank statements. I like to grab a few different colored highlighters and make each color a different category like entertainment, food, clothes, etc. Go through your statements highlighting expenses, and then go back through with a calculator and add up the different categories for each month.
This will give you an idea of where your money is going each month so that you can start to see where you are spending more than you’d like and where you could be saving money. Flip to a budget page in your binder and let’s get started building your first budget!
List All of Your Sources of Income
To get the most out of your budget planner and have a clear view of your finances you need to list all sources of income. You need to know everything that’s coming in and going out. This includes wages from full-time or part-time jobs, side hustles, benefits, investments, etc.
Take the time to assess and record your income accurately so that you have a good idea of how much money you have coming in each month, especially if your paychecks are different each time or you have multiple sources of income. Knowing this is essential for planning out budgets that are realistic and achievable. If you think you’re making more than you are each month, you’re always going to come up short – which will get frustrating very quickly.
Set a Monthly Spending Budget
Setting out a monthly spending budget is the next step toward getting your finances on track. It’s easy to overspend, so it’s important to list all of your expenses and create an attainable budget that ensures you are living within your means.
Outline all of your expected expenses such as rent, loans, bills, and other utilities, living costs like groceries, and emergency funds for unexpected expenses. Once you have established how much money you can comfortably afford to spend each month, adjust your budget accordingly.
I like to break my expenses down into “fixed” expenses and “variable” expenses. Fixed expenses are things you have to pay every month no matter what, and they are usually the same amount. This is things like rent, car insurance, minimum debt payments, and utilities.
Variable expenses are the things you need (and want) to buy, but you can control how much you spend. This is things like groceries, eating out, pet supplies, clothing, gas, spending money, etc. These are the areas of your budget where you can make the most change right away.
Part of why it’s so important to know how much you’ve actually been spending for the past six months is so you can set up your budget to be realistic. If you’ve been spending $700 a month on groceries, cutting that to $150 in your first budget is probably not realistic. Set budget levels that are a bit less than you have been spending, but are still attainable.
Track Your Spending Habits and Adjust as Needed
When budgeting, it’s important to track your expenses and adjust your monthly budget as needed. This is why one of my favorite parts of my budget binder is the spending tracker pages.
Since I divide my variable expenses into categories, I like to track my spending based on those categories as well. I record every purchase I make for each category in my spending tracker pages and add them up at the end of the period so I know exactly how much per month I spent.
Once you have established your funds for the month, it’s important to monitor those budgets closely and make adjustments based on your spending habits. Track any variances and update your budget accordingly so that you can stay within your financial plan.
Setting Financial Goals in Your Budget Binder
Once you’ve gotten a handle on budgeting for a few months and controlling your spending, it’s time to set some financial goals.
Budgeting isn’t that helpful if you don’t have a plan for the money you aren’t spending. Think about your financial picture and what makes the most sense for your situation. Do you have student loans to pay off? Could you start an emergency fund? Or maybe start paying off that high-interest credit card debt. Or you can set smaller goals to start.
Setting specific financial goals – such as saving for a car or home improvement project, paying off debt, or even growing your emergency fund – will help motivate you to stay on track with your budget. Make sure that your financial goals are measurable, achievable, and realistic so that you can attain them.
Consider Automating Savings
Automating your savings is an easy and painless way to reach your financial goals. Set up monthly direct deposits into a dedicated savings account, and over time you’ll see the benefits of this disciplined approach.
I have all my savings accounts set up to automatically deposit into my account so I don’t even have to think about it. It keeps me from deciding to use that money for something else or spending it without thinking.
Take a little bit of time to get your printable budget planner set up and create your first budget today! It will help you control your spending, set your financial goals, and start feeling like you are in control of your money instead of it controlling you! Getting control of your finances will be easier than you think, and the sooner you start the sooner you can start hitting your new financial goals.
Learn more about budgeting:
- The Debt Snowball Method vs the Debt Avalanche Method
- The Basics of Sinking Funds
- How to Get Started Managing Your Money