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If you’re new to budgeting, then you’re likely searching the internet looking for a sample budget so that you can truly SEE budgeting in action.
I totally get it! If you’re a visual learner, you probably want to see a real family’s sample budget so that you will be motivated to tackle budgeting once and for all.
And because money tends to be something that most friends don’t discuss, a sample budget is important to help you know if you’re on the right track. It’s a great way to help you learn how to make budgeting doable so that it’s something you can stick with it in the long run.
By looking over a sample budget you will likely learn tips and tricks to help make budgeting easier for your family. Before diving into this particular budget example, you should know a few important things about budgeting.
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What A Basic Budget Should Include
If you’re new to budgeting, then you’ll want to be sure that your budget includes fixed expenses, variable expenses, and debt/savings.
Fixed expenses include bills that do not change from month to month. You can expect to pay the same amount on these bills or expenses every single month. Below are examples of fixed expenses that you’ll want to include in your budget:
- Life Insurance
- Car Insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Gym Membership
- Streaming services (Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, etc.)
Variable expenses include bills that will change from month to month. They won’t necessarily match your budget from the month before. For instance, you might budget a different amount for groceries from one paycheck to the next. Below are examples of variable expenses that you will want to include in your budget:
- School Lunches
- Spending Money
- Clothing/Dry Cleaning
- Family Fun Money
- Beauty Products
Debts and Savings
If you currently have debt payments, you will need to include those in your budget. Likewise, if you’re saving for a future vacation, back to school shopping, or Christmas then you’ll want to add these savings categories to your budget as well. Below are a few examples of debts or savings that you’ll want to include in your budget:
- Car Payments
- Student Loan Payments
- Credit Card Payments
- Personal Loans
- Christmas Savings
- Vacation Savings
- Birthday Savings
- Emergency Fund Savings
Tips To Create A Budget That Works
No budget is perfect. This means that you might find yourself writing a budget that you think is amazing, yet somehow doesn’t work out in the end.
This is totally normal! Below are 4 tips to help you create a simple budget that you can actually stick to.
1. Track every single expense and purchase
The more aware you are of your money and spending habits, the easier it will be to write and stick to a budget. Tracking your spending will allow you to know if you’re going over budget each month.
I personally love tracking my expenses with Quicken. It doesn’t matter if you track expenses on paper, with an app, or with a software program. All that matters is that you find a system that works for you!
2. Be flexible
Chances are your budget won’t go as planned which is totally okay! It’s important to be flexible and be willing to make changes throughout the month. This is where mini-budgets come in.
Mini-budgets give you the ability to start a budget no matter what your finances are like. They remove the temptation to say you’ll “start over next month.” Read more about how mini-budgets here.
3. Cut out any unnecessary expenses
The fewer bills or expenses you have each month, the more simple your budget will become. Print out your last bank statement and highlight any recurring expenses or bills. Ask yourself if this is a necessary expense. If you’re willing to live without it, cut it out.
The more streamlined your budget is, the more likely you’ll make it work in the long run!
4. Set realistic goals
When my husband and I first started budgeting, we cut our budget WAY back. We didn’t allow any spending money or money for eating out in our budget. We cut back our grocery bill significantly. Although this seemed like a great idea at the time, it wasn’t sustainable for us.
By changing our budget to allow spending money and a small restaurant budget, we were able to stick to our budget better. Setting realistic goals kept us on track and helped us reach BIG goals over time!
Your Budget Should Change Every Month
Who wants to write a budget every month? It sounds unnecessary, right?
Writing a budget every month is very important! Although some of your bills and expenses won’t change (like the fixed expenses listed above), a lot of your variable expenses will change from month to month.
For instance, some months you might budget more for groceries or gas. Other months you might spend more on birthday parties or anniversary gifts. Even your utility bill will likely change from month to month.
When you first get started with budgeting, you might spend an hour or more working on a budget that will work for you or your family. But after months of practice, I can guarantee you that budgeting will not only get easier but faster as well!
Ultimately, your budget should change every month. Even if it’s similar, there is likely to be small changes here and there. So spend time writing a new budget each month or even each paycheck.
Do you want step by step instructions on how to budget? Check out The Easiest Budgeting Method Ever! It includes steps, tips, and even pictures to help make budgeting easy.
Like the budget printables you see above? You can grab them here.
Sample Budget From A Real Family
Although it’s great to learn how to write a budget, sometimes it’s incredibly helpful to see it in action!
This sample budget was submitted by a family of 12. They are a single income family because one parent focuses on homeschooling all the kids. They currently have no debt other than a mortgage which allows them to live on one income and still save a lot of money.
Along with living on one income, they have chosen to live in a smaller home which has made their mortgage payment very inexpensive. They have paid off half their mortgage and their ultimate goal is to pay it off completely!
Currently, this family has chosen to prioritize saving money. They are not only saving money for retirement, but also for birthdays, holidays, and even new clothes! You’ll see their savings broken down into their sinking funds. Click here to learn even more about saving money with sinking funds.
Below their complete sample budget is broken down by category.
Current monthly take-home pay: $4,350.00
This family is currently tithing (or giving) about 10% of their take-home pay to their church every month. They are able to give back because they are debt free and write a budget each month that works for them.
Remember that smaller home that we talked about earlier? It has allowed them to have a mortgage payment that won’t break the bank! They will also be able to pay off their home sooner with a smaller monthly mortgage payment.
Car Insurance: $200.00
They currently have three drivers in their house. Their car insurance covers two adults and one teenager. They are prepared to bring on more teenage drivers to their car insurance in the future.
While some people bundle cable and internet together, this family doesn’t! They are able to save more than $50 each month by choosing to skip out on cable altogether.
Life Insurance: $39.00
Term life insurance is very reasonably priced. This couple has term life insurance to cover both of them.
Trash is usually tied into a utility bill, but some cities charge residents separately.
Cell Phones: $60.00
This family has chosen to skip out on the name brand cell phone companies and find a plan that is very affordable!
This amount might change monthly depending on any extra travel.
According to USA Today, the average Americans spend 6% of their budget on groceries. They also spend another 5% on take out, bringing the total to 11% on food! This family is spending about 23% of their budget on food, however, they are also feeding 12 people. Overall, this is a very reasonable food budget for their family.
This bill could change dramatically depending on the season. If you’re not sure how much to budget for electricity, go back and check how much your bill was at this time last year. That will give you a good idea of how much to budget.
This bill will change depending on how often people are showering and if they are watering their lawn.
Chances are you’ll spend more on heat in the winter. Be sure to take that into consideration.
Diapers/Household Supplies: $200.00
Not only are they including diapers, but also household supplies. This likely includes toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.
Family Fun Money: $75.00
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun! It’s best to add in fun money or even an allowance to your budget so that you can make budgeting a long-lasting habit.
This family currently sends over $1,200 each month to savings! The money they save is broken up into sinking funds.
Once a sinking fund is fully funded, they send any extra money to their emergency fund. If they end up using money from a sinking fund, they determine if it needs to be refilled for that year or not.
For instance, they won’t refill the birthday fund until the next year if they spend money from it. However, if they have to use the car maintenance fund then they do begin refilling it because it’s likely an unexpected expense they will have again in the future.
Emergency Fund: $452.00
This money is set aside for exactly what it sounds like…emergencies. This money is usually saved for big emergencies such as an unexpected hospital visit.
They have already saved $1,200 for Christmas. That means they can send money that they normally would save for Christmas to their emergency fund. Other families might save $100 each month until December to help cover Christmas expenses.
Homeschool Expenses: $200.00
Because this family chooses to homeschool, they have extra expenses to cover school (like purchasing supplies and the curriculum).
Car & Home Maintenance: $200.00
It’s best to be prepared for unexpected car fixes and home maintenance. This money could be used for simple oil changes or even large fixes such as a new air conditioner if necessary.
It’s wise to have a sinking fund set aside for buying kids new clothes and shoes when the time is right. Instead of spending all the money on a credit card and worrying about paying it off later, this family is are to pull money straight from savings when it’s time to buy new clothes or shoes!
So there you have it…a sample budget from a real family!
Will this budget look like yours? Not at all. Each family and individual’s budget will be unique to them. However, we can all learn from other people’s budgets.
Did this sample budget remind you that you need to save money for new clothes or shoes? Or maybe it convinced you that living a simple life is the way to go. Let me know in the comments!
Inspired By This Sample Budget And Ready To Start Your Own?
Are you ready to learn how to write a budget that works for your family but not sure where to start? The FREE Budgeting Basics Email Course will walk you through 6 days of lessons to help you learn how to budget, pay off debt, and save money.
Plus, it comes with printables to help you finally get organized! Sign up below.