When you are working to get your finances on track, it can be helpful to see an example of a budget. With a better picture of what others are including in their budget, you can make sure you aren’t leaving anything out.
When I first started budgeting, I learned a lot from other example budgets of what should be included. With that, I’m sharing a sample budget to make sure you can include everything the first time around. This can be incredibly helpful to avoid forgotten expenses that can throw off your budget.
Why budgeting is important
If you are wondering why you should create a budget, the main reason is that it can help you stay on track towards financial goals. Beyond helping you accomplish long-term financial goals, you can use budgeting as a means to keep spending money on the things that matter to you most. Essentially, it can help you with the habit of prioritizing your wants vs needs.
Plus, a budget can ensure that you have enough money to stretch until the next payday. With a solid budget in place, you may find that you have more peace of mind as you navigate your finances.
Example of a budget
One of the best ways to learn about budgeting is to take a look at an example budget. With that, I’ve created a sample budget below based on a $46,000 annual post-tax salary to help you visualize a starting point for your budget.
Below are some example categories of expenses and estimated costs as well as an overview of each expense that could be added to a spreadsheet.
Keep in mind that these costs can vary based on where you live, your net income, and your financial obligations. However, the whole idea of an example budget is to help you set your own baseline.
As you layout, your budget, be sure to factor in your variable expenses (that change monthly) and your fixed expenses (which don't change).
|Rent or mortgage payment||$1,000|
|Gas and tolls||$150|
|Extra debt payments||$250|
|Homeowners or renters insurance||$10|
|Medical, dental, and prescriptions||$50|
Rent or mortgage payment
Unless you’ve paid off your mortgage or mastered the art of house hacking, you will need to include your housing costs in your monthly budget. Depending on where you live, you may need to spend more or less than $1,000 to live in a safe space. One quick way to lower your expenses is to downsize your living space.
Beyond simply paying for a rental or mortgage payment, extra home expenses like utilities and trash collection services will need a spot in your budget. If possible, try to estimate the extra expenses of a home or apartment before moving in. You don’t want to be stuck with high utility costs that put too much of a financial strain on your budget.
Unfortunately, properties can need repairs when you least expect it. As a homeowner, you cannot simply call your landlord to take care of a leaky faucet. Instead, it’s up to you to foot the repair bill.
With that, it is important for homeowners to include space in their budget to cover home repairs. Of course, you probably won’t run into a major home repair issue every single month. But when something comes up, you’ll want to be prepared to handle the expense. In this case, a sinking fund can come in handy.
If you have a car, then one of the many expenses you’ll need to consider is car insurance. Luckily, you can save a lot on car insurance by shopping around and looking for discounts. Check out these other ways to save money on your car expenses.
Health insurance is a critical expense. If you have a full-time job, then your employer probably offers some health insurance coverage options. Talk to your HR representative if you have questions about the available plans. Whether or not you have a full-time job, you can explore your options in the healthcare marketplace.
Although you don’t have to pay for interest access in your home, it has become an essential part of our lives. Not only can it keep you entertained, but also give you the ability to work from home.
Personally, I spend around $40 for cell phone service. But that cost can vary dramatically based on your phone and provider preferences.
Gas and tolls
The amount you spend on gas and tolls will vary based on your commute. Take a minute to consider how much your actual spending on gas and tolls is each month.
Car maintenance can be a tricky expense. Although there are regular maintenance expenses such as oil changes, other expenses like new tires can throw a wrench in your budget. I recommend saving a set amount of money each month to prepare for the inevitable car repair that will come your way.
Food costs can add up quickly. Depending on your budget and location, food prices can be a major cost in your budget. Although there are some ways to save on your food bills, there is no way to avoid some level of food spending. One way to cut back on food costs is to try meal planning. I’ve personally used this strategy to save hundreds of dollars on food each month.
Our furry friends have needs that translate into more expenses for your budget. If you have a pet or are planning to bring one home soon, their needs will need to be factored in. A few pet expenses include food, shots, vet visits, medications, and toys.
If you love to give gifts, then add this in as an expense. Depending on the extravagance level of your gifts, you may need to add more room to the gift budget. (Keep in mind not all gifts for kids need to be expensive toys!)
Don’t forget about taxes in your budget. Although it can be easy to overlook your tax burden, you’ll need to include your tax payments into your budget. You can learn more about how to calculate your post-tax income in our full post.
An emergency fund can add a large amount of financial peace to your life by creating a buffer for unexpected expenses. But building an emergency fund from scratch will require a monthly contribution until you meet your emergency fund goals. Find out more about building an emergency fund today.
We all want to retire at some point. Whether you want to retire early or later in life, you’ll need to start saving for retirement as soon as possible. Tucking away a monthly contribution into your retirement account can help you save for the day you can leave the working world forever.
Extra debt payments
If you have outstanding debt like credit cards or student loans, then getting out of debt quickly may be a top financial goal. With that, you can set aside any amount of extra money to start eliminating your debt more quickly. Take advantage of our free course that will help you destroy your debt for good.
Homeowners or renters insurance
Whether you own or rent, paying for extra insurance is a good idea. If you are a homeowner, you’ll likely be required to have a homeowners insurance policy. If you rent, it can be worth the small cost to protect your belongings.
Medical, dental, and prescriptions
We all face medical and dental costs at some point in our life. Plus, many of us have prescriptions to buy each month. Although your unique situation will have an impact on the total cost of maintaining your health, it is important to include your estimated expenses in your budget.
Many of us pay for subscription services for entertainment such as Netflix or Disney+. We might also be paying for a gym membership. Make sure to include these monthly costs in your budget.
Toiletries like hand soap and shampoo will likely take a small spot in your budget, but it should be included. Do pretty scents sway you? Those small amounts can add up if you don't pay attention to them.
Personal care could include things like hair appointments and nail care. Anything that is related to keeping you healthy and looking great could fall into this category.
The cost of childcare is usually very expensive. In the state of Florida, the average childcare cost is just over $600. No matter where you live, you’ll likely need to set aside several hundred dollars each month.
Cultivating hobbies can be very enjoyable. You can set aside a monthly budget to support your hobbies. Or you can seek out free activities such as hiking or walking at the local park.
Generosity is an amazing quality. It is a good idea to leave enough room in your budget for your generous spirit.
The holidays are an expensive time of the year. But with a sinking fund that you contribute to throughout the year, you’ll be able to spend less time worrying about money around the holidays.
Having a small amount of ‘fun’ money set aside leaves room in your budget for spontaneity and enjoyment. Whether you want to take a small day trip or splurge on a new outfit, fun money can help you keep motivated to stick to the budgeting plan.
Should your budget look different?
Every budget will look slightly different. Although the basic expenses from this example of a budget will still be there, you should make adjustments to reflect your life choices and priorities. For example, you might decide to include a life insurance premium into your monthly budget to protect your dependents. If you want help creating a budget that works for you, then check out our free budgeting course.
Leverage this example of a budget for your success!
A budget can help you improve your spending habits and reach your financial goals. Use this example of a budget to help you get started crafting your own budget. Here's to creating your own successful budget!