If you reside in a household with a severely limited income, it is essential you monitor expenditures, or you can easily spend much more than you have at your disposal. The spreadsheet below will help you make your money stretch, while ensuring you live within your means.
Budget Worksheet for Low Income Families
This printable worksheet opens in any PDF reader. For more information about using this type of document, please see LoveToKnow's guide for Adobe printables.
In this section, populate each cell in the appropriate sections with the amount of incoming cash for any job income or benefits you receive. If you are currently the recipient of a cash benefit not listed, be sure to include it, as well. Likewise, include any additional sources of income you receive each month, such as work bonuses, commissions, miscellaneous gifts, or proceeds from child support.
For non-cash benefits, do not include the item in the income portion of the spreadsheet. Instead, adjust the accompanying expense. For example, if your estimated grocery expenditures for the month are $400, but you only receive $300 in SNAP benefits, include a $100 grocery expense in your budget.
Expense items are grouped by category, and the sum is presented at the bottom of each section. Since money is tight, make sure the projected expenses are an accurate representation of what you actually plan to spend. As previously mentioned, you should reduce subsidized expenses to reflect the out-of-pocket costs you will incur.
To identify expense categories that need improvement, take a look at the figures in the variance column of each worksheet. The simplest way to get back on track the following month is by committing to reduce variable expenses, such as clothing, entertainment, or any other miscellaneous items that fluctuate monthly.
The funds at the bottom of each spreadsheet represent the amount that should remain once all expenses are settled. Consider using this amount, even if it's only a few dollars, to start an emergency or rainy day fund.
Other Budgeting Tips
As soon as income hits your bank account, take care of your outstanding obligations to resist the temptation to spend money elsewhere. In addition, allocate blow money--money set aside as a safety net--in the miscellaneous column to cover those slight, but unexpected variances in monthly bills. Finally, consider incorporating the envelope system to control variable expenses.
Adjusting to a spending plan can be rather difficult, but your efforts will pay off once you are on the road to financial freedom.