mans hand typing on calculator looking at budget graphs

Looking at Budgeting

A practical budget can be a result of collaborative conversations you can have in your household as you plan how to manage your money.


Starting Points

Your budget is your blueprint for keeping cash flow positive, and for sticking to your saving goals.

Whether you're single, supporting others, or have a partner, it’s essential to have an overall household budget. That big picture is indispensable for having a good sense, based on actual numbers, of where your household stands financially, and how you plan to stay on track throughout the year.


Remember, a budget is there to help you, and it's not written in stone.


Create a spreadsheet, or use an app, to list all your anticipated monthly expenses. It can be helpful to divide them by how frequently they occur.

Fixed vs. Variable

For the fixed expenses, such as rent or phone, it's easy to fill in the exact amount you know you'll have to spend. On the other hand, with the variable expenses, like groceries, there is no single exact amount. But based on what you know you spend, you should be able to estimate a fairly accurate number for most weeks.

The next step is to compare your income to your expenses. In order to achieve (and maintain) a positive cash flow, you may have to adjust some of the variable expenses—which probably means cutting back or cutting some of them out altogether. You can go back to the answers you and your partner gave when you had the conversation about what kinds of expenses would be the easiest, and the most difficult to forego.

A notepad titled monthly budget with line items and dollar values

Illustration: Chelsea Miller

You can try creating a budget with our easy and free coach session below.  

Create a budget steps one two and three

You should revisit your budget on a regular basis. Remember, it's there to help you both, and it's not written in stone. Adjusting it if your overall household income changes is important.

A two column list with Expense Category and Expected Cost

Divide your anticipated expenses based on how frequently they occur. Making a spreadsheet or using a budgeting app can help track your expenses more easily.

Spread the Wealth

If your budget changes because you get an influx of cash, maybe from a bonus or an inheritance, you may be tempted to use it to cover increased variable expenses, like eating out, travel, or the newest phone. Certainly using some of the money that way is fine. But it's also a great opportunity to pay down debt or to increase what you're putting away in savings—either in an emergency fund, a retirement plan, or your investment portfolio.

Looking for an easy way to save? Create an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. Schedule it on a monthly basis or to coincide with the direct deposit of your paycheck. You can start with a smaller amount and work up to a larger saving amount as time goes on and you figure out your budget. Automatic transfers help do the work for you so you don't have to decide to save each time you get paid - you've already decided to start saving!

While we hope you find this content useful, it is only intended to serve as a starting point. Your next step is to speak with a qualified, licensed professional who can provide advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Nothing in this article, nor in any associated resources, should be construed as financial or legal advice. Furthermore, while we have made good faith efforts to ensure that the information presented was correct as of the date the content was prepared, we are unable to guarantee that it remains accurate today.

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