You're not on your own when it comes to getting your household finances in order via budgeting. There are a lot of budgeting tools online that can help you, most notably, calculators. Here are a few -- see which one(s) you like best:
- Fool budgeting calculator
- Kiplinger.com budgeting worksheet
- Houseclicks worksheet (there are four pages -- click over to the other three)
- State of Vermont Department of Education and Training worksheet
- The Department of Education -- aimed at students and new ex-students
- About.com's Budget Zone
Note that with some, you'll need to already have a good handle on how much you're spending on various categories. Others can help you work through thinking about how much you spend. For some valuable guidance on how to go about tracking your expenses, check out this article.
You might maximize the value of your budget by making a worksheet of your own, where you can be more specific. For example, if you lump all entertainment expenses into an "Entertainment" line item, you won't get as much insight into your spending habits as you would if you broke entertainment into movies, eating out, cable TV, theater tickets, clogging supplies, etc. Add any relevant items that you spend money on regularly, such as golf, dry cleaning, music lessons, or books. It's important to see where all significant chunks of your income go.
Here's a long (but not comprehensive) list of possible categories: Rent/Mortgage, Utilities, Telephone, Cable/Internet Access, Food, Household Repairs, Household Maintenance, Home Improvement, Purchase of Furniture/Appliances, Automobile Payments, Automobile Repairs, Transportation Cost, Clothing, Medical, Dental Care, Vision Expenses, Child Care, Vacations, Non-vacation Travel, Gifts and Holidays, Charitable Contributions, Home Insurance, Car Insurance, Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Child Support, Alimony, School Tuition, School Expenses, Taxes (income, auto, etc.), Real Estate Taxes, Loan Payments, Credit Card Payments, Savings and Investments, Entertainment.
For lots of ideas on how to save money, visit our Living Below Your Means discussion board.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.