Where do the dollars go?
After you've determined your family's Net Spendable Income, it's time to sit down and number crunch. This is going to happen in two phases. First, you have to evaluate where your money is already going. Review your last couple months of receipts to see where you are used to spending your money. Then, compare those numbers to Crown Financial Ministries' percentage guideline charts to see how you're doing.
The first thing I usually do when I sit down with our new annual budget is plug in any payments that are going to be made no matter what, like my mortgage, estimated/average monthly utilities, cell phone, Internet, etc.
Now I know what I have left over for categorizes like "Entertainment/Recreation" and "Miscellaneous" which contains what I lovingly refer to as "personal maintenance" funds for hair cuts, vitamins and cosmetics. Within my spreadsheet I use Excel Comments to tag columns that contain more than one item. For instance my "Housing" column contains both my mortgage and utility payments, so my comment looks like this:
When I scroll over the cell, my little comment pops up which is just a friendly reminder of where that money is allocated.
It is important to be realistic when creating your budget. Our first budget didn't have "Entertainment/Recreation" or "Clothing" columns in it because that was money that was being invested in things like health insurance and retirement which weren't paid for by our employer at the time. God regularly blessed us with small gifts of love from people in our lives that allowed us little outings here and there, but for a season, we had to prioritize what was most important for our family and that meant wearing old clothes and date nights on the couch.
So, grab your calculator and determine where your money ought to be going. Next we will discover how you make sure it gets there.