How to budget in 6 simple steps - Step 6

A budget is a plan you make to spend your money. Budgeting stops you overspending, helps you save to reach your financial goals and, contrary to popular opinion, actually gives you the freedom to spend money on the fun stuff!

The process is quite straightforward and requires you to sit down at the end of every month to budget for the month ahead. It may take a few months to understand the process fully but after that, it's a cinch.

In this 6-part series, you'll learn how to create a zero-based budget and these six steps you need to follow to budget on a monthly basis:

1 | Manage your bills with a Bill Register

2 | Record your income on an Income Tracker

3 | Reduce your debt with a Debt Tracker

4 | Save money with a Savings Tracker

5 | Create a Monthly Budget

6 | Track your spending with a Monthly Expenses Tracker

Yesterday we covered step number five with the Monthly Budget. Today is the final step number six, the Monthly Expenses Tracker.


Step 6 | Monthly Expenses Tracker

Once your budget has been set, you need to track your expenses as you go through the month to try to keep within the limits you've set for yourself. The best way to do this is to track your expenses as you go and then review them on a regular basis.

This Lorna Leigh Lane Monthly Budget & Expenses Kit contains 12 blank budget sheets, one for each month of the year, plus a blank expenses sheet for each month as well.


How to track your monthly expenses

At the beginning of the month, write your starting balance which is your total monthly budget amount at the top of the page (as seen in the example above). From this amount you will subtract each expense.

At the end of each day, sit down and fill in your Monthly Expenses page as follows:

DATE: Write the date of the expense.

CATEGORY: Use your Monthly Budget page to help you determine the category.

EXPENSE: Use your Monthly Budget page to help you determine the expense type. You can add extra details if you like.

AMOUNT: Write the amount spent.

BALANCE: Write the remaining balance once you've subtracted the amount of this expenses.

At the end of the week, calculate what you've spent in each area and compare it with your budget to see if you're on track. Pencil in how much you've spent so far then next week, calculate that's week's worth of expenses and add them together.

For instance, at the end of week 1, you may have spent $300 on groceries. Pencil that in on the 'Groceries' expenses line. If your budget for the month is $800, this would suggest you need to cut back a little next week in that area to ensure you're not going to blow that section of your budget. The following week you may have spent $150 on groceries. Rub out last week's total and pencil the total spent so far of $450 on that line. This shows you're still a little over budget but you're coming back into line.


Tips for tracking your monthly expenses

You should make this process as simple as possible so that you stick with the process. If you'd like to record each and every expense individually so you can see where every dollar goes, that's great, but if that seems a little arduous, there are shortcuts that are perfectly fine to take.

For instance, you may want to allow yourself a set amount each week, say $35, that you can spend on small things like buying gum, takeaway coffees, the newspaper etc. In this case, you can put that money in a separate purse or section of your wallet and use it during the week without tracking each individual expense. Then write this total amount on one line of your expenses tracker and put it to a category and expense such as "LIVING - Miscellaneous".

Similarly, at the end of the week, you can look at your bank statement and calculate your expenses in bulk. For instance, you may go through and add up any money spent at the supermarket during the past week then simply add this total amount on one line of your expenses tracker and put it to a category and expense such as "LIVING - Groceries Week 1".

The most important thing is to stick with your budget so be kind to yourself and make this process fit into your lifestyle in a way that you can maintain it.


Budgeting is easiest with templates that you can re-use each month so you can get into good financial habits.

The Lorna Leigh Lane Home Budget Ultimate Planner Kit contains Monthly Expense Trackers and plenty more editable templates including pages to create monthly budgets and track your spending as well as debt repayments and savings tracking pages.

To get your Home Budget Ultimate Planner Kit click the button below below and give zero-based budgeting a try.

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For more printable budgeting templates, check out the Lorna Leigh Lane Shop here.

Happy planning!