Published in: Banks | Nov. 23, 2019

Have Trouble Managing Money? Try a Weekly Budget

By:  Lyle Daly

We are committed to full transparency as part of our mission to make the world smarter, happier, & richer. You should know that offers on The Ascent may be from our partners - it's how we make money. That transparency to you is core to our editorial integrity, which isn’t influenced by compensation.


This budget trick could eliminate overspending.

When you started budgeting for the first time, there's a good chance you went with the typical monthly budget. This is where you list all your income and outgoings, and then use that information to decide how much you'll set aside for savings and discretionary expenses.

Even though most people gravitate towards monthly budgeting, it's not always the best option. If you've found that you overspend in spite of your efforts to manage your money, then switching to a weekly budget could be exactly what you need to break that habit and save more money.

Young man sitting behind desk overrun with financial papers looking deeply stressed.

Image source: Getty Images

Why use a weekly budget?

The advantage of using a weekly budget is that it helps you better manage your discretionary spending.

Let's be honest -- when you give yourself a monthly allowance for discretionary expenses, it's tough to keep yourself on track. How often have you got to the end of the month and found you'd gone over your limit? By breaking everything down into weekly chunks, it becomes much easier to track what you're spending and stick to your budget.

Since you'll be checking your spending more frequently, you'll have fewer transactions to review. On a monthly budgeting system, you'd typically review your spending once a month. That could mean you have dozens of transactions to go through. With weekly budgeting, you're only looking at one week's worth of transactions, which you can probably do in minutes.

Best of all, you'll know whether you went over budget on a weekly basis, allowing you to adjust your spending accordingly in the coming weeks. A weekly budget gives you 52 opportunities each year to correct overspending, compared to only 12 with a monthly one.

How to set up a weekly budget

The only change required for weekly budgeting is switching your expenses from monthly to weekly amounts. To do so, take each monthly amount, multiply it by 12, and then divide that by 52.

Here's an example -- you've set a monthly allowance of $400 for discretionary expenses. Multiplied by 12, that's $4,800 per year. Divided by 52, that's $92.31 per week.

You'd go through this process with your income and all your regular expenses. That way, you have the weekly numbers for:

  • The amount left over after paying all your bills
  • Your savings target
  • Your allowance for discretionary expenses (aka your "fun money")

If you want to save some time, you could just calculate the weekly amounts for your discretionary expenses and contributions to your savings, since these are the most important ones to get right. The amount you pay towards your bills won't change whether you've broken them down by week or not.

Making adjustments as you go

Don't think that you need to rigidly follow the weekly allowances you've set up in your budget. The beauty of weekly budgeting is that you can adjust from week to week depending on whether you're spending less or more than what you allotted.

Let's stick with the example above where you have $92.31 of discretionary spending each week. If you only spend $50 in week one, you can roll the remaining $42.31 over into the next week. Or, if you have an expensive dinner out that costs $125, you'd cut back until you've balanced out the extra $32.69 you spent. You could try to make it all back the next week, or you could shave off about $11 per week for the next three weeks.

Trimming your spending with weekly budgeting

Although weekly budgeting may sound more complicated than monthly budgeting, that's not the case. You're checking your spending more often, but it's not very time-consuming since you're only looking at transactions for one week at a time.

This one little change can make a big difference in your spending habits. As you probably know, it's easy to lose track of how you're doing with your budget when you only check once a month. A weekly budget helps you stay on top of your spending and allows you to notice right away if you ever miss your mark.

Savings account rates are skyrocketing -- Earn 23x your bank

Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 23x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class picks that landed a spot on our shortlist of the best savings accounts for 202.