Organizing your finances

The first step in setting up a budget is gathering your information together so that you know where you are right now financially. Just like a map where you have to know your starting point before you can get to your destination, budgeting is also a journey that requires awareness of what you are earning and spending right now as a starting point to getting to where you want to be- financially fit!

Use our free cash flow template worksheet or grab a piece of paper, your last two paystubs or monthly income statements, your bank statements, your utility and creditor statements, and a calculator. Let’s start gathering information!

What is your monthly income?

Write this down at the top of your page. If you are paid monthly, write down your net income, which is the money you get to spend after all taxes and insurances are withheld. If you are paid biweekly or semi-monthly, add two net checks together for your monthly income. If you have a job where income varies, take your annual income and divide by 12.

What are your monthly fixed expenses?

Write down all of the bills with a due date that you pay monthly. Look at your bank statements and creditor statements for bills that are automatically withdrawn from your accounts, like gym memberships and streaming subscriptions. Don’t forget the big expenses like rent and auto insurance!

What are your monthly variable expenses?

Write down expenses that you pay every month but have amounts that can vary based on your spending habits. Think of categories like groceries, meals out, gasoline, and fun. Look at your bank and credit card statements for a full month and add up your purchases in each category to get real numbers

What are your creditor payments?

Go through all of your monthly creditor statements and write down balances, limits, interest rates, and minimum payments.

What do you spend on average in periodic expenses? 

This is a tough area to calculate because it can vary from year to year, but these are absolutely a part of your expenses so we need to add this to your list.

Here is a list of common periodic categories:

  1. Car Expenses: Oil changes, tires, regular maintenance, parts.

Example of how to calculate your monthly totals:

               Oil Changes ($40 three times a year)                          $120/year
               Tires in two years                                                      $300/year ($600 divided by 2 years)
               30,000 mile check-up due                                          $300/year
               Regular maintenance (wipers, alignments, etc.)        $300/year

TOTAL EXPENSES:                                $1,020 annually (higher if car is older)
$1,020 divided by 12 months equals $85 a month. $85 goes on your monthly expenses list.

2. Home Expenses: Computer, TV, cell phone, mattress, couch, glasses, towels.

3. Gift & Holiday Expenses: Birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.

4. Fun/Activities: Concerts, summer fairs, theater.

5. Clothing: Shoes, sock, underwear, jewelry, sports’ needs.

6. Annual fees: DMV tags, AAA, Costco, Amazon, timeshares.

You now have this thorough list of your current monthly expenses. Once you know where you are right NOW, you can create a plan to get where you WANT to be. Let’s start that journey today!

For more information, checkout our Enrich tools for budgeting or watch the Analyzing Your Budget video. Cal Coast's Financial Coaching team can also help you organize your expenses as a free benefit to our members. Start today and begin your journey to financial freedom!


Additional Resources: