Improve your Budget

You will need:

Time required: About an hour

This article is designed for those who have previous experience with budgeting, or have already used the
basic budgeting worksheet. If you are not experienced with a cash flow method of budgeting, please visit the basic budget article to view the instructions.

I have called this worksheet the Advanced Record of Cash-flows Worksheet, but in reality it is just as simple as the basic version. The main difference is that the advanced worksheet contains more sub categories. The additional categories will give you more control over individual elements of your budget, and help give a better idea of exactly where your money is going. The additional categories help to weed out areas that might be over or under funded.

If you haven’t done so already, download and print a copy of the advanced budget worksheet.

Income sources

The first thing you will notice is that instead of jumping right in, the first page is nearly blank, except for a thick line with the words Cash-Flow Period beneath. Because this budget is designed to be kept for at least a year, it makes sense to clearly mark the month (or period). That way if you need to look over a previous budget, you can quickly find the period you need. For most people, the period will simply state the month, but for others it may include a 2 week range. My budgets are for 1 month, but my pay period goes from the 25th to the 25th. In my case the line would read April 25 – May 25 2010


Page 2 is dedicated specifically to incomes. As you can see, there are many more categories to fill. Most people will only fill out a few of these, but the idea is to form the habit of recording every source of income. There are also a few new columns, the Period column and the Actual/Information column. The period column helps keep track of the times when the income will become available. The Actual/Information column records the actual amount received, along with any additional information that might be helpful. An example might be Income 1 receives $1,000 every 2 weeks. The $1,000 would be written in the Amount column and “2 Weeks” would be recored in the Period column. At the end of the month, the actual amount that was received (say $1,004.37), along with any notes would be recored in the final column.
Once all income sources have been recored, follow continue as you would in the basic budget. Add the columns and place the sum on the total line. As for the Period column, record the range of periods beside the total income. For example. If Income 1 has a period of 2 weeks, and Income 2 has a period of 1 month, record “2 weeks – 1 month” or some similar conversion.

So far there isn’t much new. We are now keeping track of more incomes, and we are making note of how often, or when they occur.

The budgeting Section

The budgeting section is almost identical to that in the basic budget worksheet. The additions include more categories and category totals. In the basic budget everything was a main category, so there was no need for totals.

Lets start with the easiest two categories – Savings and Charitable Donations.
Instead of lumping all savings into one, we will separate them. In this worksheet there are sub categories for an emergency fund and a retirement fund. You may have a fund for education, a new car, or something else. In this example, I will save $300 toward my emergency fund, and $200 to retirement. I record those in the Amount column. Next I calculate the Total column. This is simply the sum of all the expenses in the category “Savings”. So I add the $300 emergency fund and the $200 retirement fund together to get $500 in total savings.

At the end of the month, I record what was actually saved to the right of the vertical line.

The % of total income is calculated just as it was in the basic worksheet. This is found by adding each actual expense in a category, dividing it by the total take home income (from the Actual Total Monthly Income) and multiplying the result by 100. For example, if the actual amounts for savings totaled $500 ($300 for emergency fund plus $200 for retirement) and my actual total monthly take home income was $3,000. Then the percentage of total income would be $500 ÷ $3,000 = 0.167 or 16.7%.

Once you have filled all the expense categories, add up all the totals into the lines “Part 1 Total” and “Part 2 total”. These are added together to form the Total Monthly Budget. At the end of the month, the actual amounts are added in the same way.

Cash-Flow Changes

The final steps are identical to the basic budget. This page is called Estimated and Actual Net Cash-Flow Changes. All it requires is subtracting the income from the budget. As with the basic budget, you should end up with $0.00 to signify a balanced budget. If you didn’t end up with a zero balance, then go back up to your budget page and make some changes.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you have completed a better budget! Although this budget initially takes more time to fill out than the basic worksheet, this gives you more power over each element, and can help save you money.

Remember to fill out the actual columns at the end of each period. The actual columns are very useful when planning your next budget. After several months of tweaking, you will find that your Actual columns are almost identical to your Estimated columns. When your estimations become the same as your actual expenses, then you will be in complete control of your money!

P.S. The last page of the worksheet includes a set of instructions just in case you forget what to do.

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