Simply put, a family budget is a system by which you can accurately track you, or your household’s income and expenditures. A well-crafted budget lets you assess at any point in time how much money you currently have, what income is due in when, and what your current and future expenses are.
Budgets are not just for those individuals struggling to make ends meet.
There is not a sound, well-run company, non-profit, school or, dare I say, government that does not operate using a budget. The wealthiest of Americans use budgets. Sure, they might not have to budget for the movie theater and popcorn once a month like you and I, but they budget their money none the less.
Budgets allow us not only to pay the bills in our hand, but they afford us the opportunity to plan for future events, both planned and unexpected. If you think you’re going to be able to comfortably afford that next ‘toy,’ a college savings account, or retirement, you’re going to have to budget.
The following video from Bank of America gives an interesting and informative overview of what goes into creating and using a good family budget. Please click the link below to activate.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, you’re more than halfway to creating an effective budget. We adapted a Microsoft Excel form as a family budget you can easily use. The form itself is self-explanatory. Click on this link to download your Excel budget – Personal Budget
A couple reminders – don’t ‘fudge’ your numbers; be as accurate as possible and use your typical net income, not your “deduction free” paycheck that happens only twice a year. Same goes for your expenses, if you typically spend $400 on groceries, don’t budget for $300 unless you really intend to reduce your grocery spending by 25%. You should calculate your budgeted amounts based on your monthly income. Enter your expenses as you pay them. At the end of the month, analyze how you’re doing. Are you staying within your budget? Is your budget unrealistic? Are there areas in which you might need to reduce your spending? Update your budget for the next month if necessary.
Find this a bit challenging, or do you have general questions about the form? Contact BSS at 213-252-3090 or ask your Division Psychologist for assistance.
If you are facing financial challenges that you don’t know how best to handle, if you are facing bankruptcy or have general questions about money planning, contact Steve Getzoff, LAPD’s Financial Counseling Team at 818-906-2230 x219.