Easy Tips for Creating a Weekly Budget Planner
Budgeting can help simplify and organize your financial life. The process is straightforward if you receive a paycheck on the first of every month and all your bills are due at the same time. But even if you’re paid weekly or biweekly, creating a weekly budget planner only requires a few easy steps, especially when you turn to Quicken Starter Edition for help.
How Much Do You Earn?
Start by determining exactly how much money you have to work with each week after taxes and other paycheck deductions. If you receive a $700 paycheck every Friday, you might think you have $2,800 available to you each month, but there is actually an average of 4.34 weeks in each month, so divide your yearly take-home income by 52 to arrive at what you actually earn each week. Use this same process if you’re paid biweekly. If you budget based on receiving two checks a month for 12 months, you’re working with just 48 weeks’ pay — that method actually leaves four weeks of unaccounted extra income.
Determine Your Expenses
Now, add up all of your monthly bills. “Start by making a list of all your fixed expenses: rent or mortgage, car payment, loans,” says Lori Askins of BR Finance Solutions, a funding and credit repair company based in Brooklyn, New York. “Next, make a list of your variable expenses, such as gas for your car, utilities and groceries.” Budgeting software like Quicken Starter Edition completes this for you by sorting all your expenditures into categories.
Don’t underestimate your variable expenses if you can’t predict them to the penny, Askins advises. “Round up, never down. Do not include dining out, your daily cup of coffee or going to the movies in your variable expenses. These are novelties. You’ll use your spending account on these things after everything else is calculated.”
The Discipline Factor
Divide your monthly expenses by the figure 4.3. Ideally, the number you arrive at is less than your weekly income, and the difference is your discretionary income (or spending account). If your weekly take-home pay is $700, and you dedicate 80 percent of it to fixed and variable expenses, you’ll have $140 left over each week. You might want to use some of the money in your spending account to contribute to savings, say, 10 percent of your weekly pay. That’s $70 based on a $700 paycheck, leaving you with $70 to spend on other things. Programs like Quicken Starter Edition help you stick to your budget using alerts for when you’re nearing your spending limit.
The Bottom Line
If you find that you just can’t live on your spending allowance, try lowering some of your other expenditures or seeing if you can increase your income. As a last resort, you might want to save a little less, maybe five percent of your take-home pay instead of 10 percent.
Of course, all this planning and calculating only works if you regularly receive the same amount of income every Friday or every two weeks. Otherwise, savings becomes key — when you have flush weeks, tuck as much of that extra money away as possible so the lean weeks won’t derail you.