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Publication #FCS7172

Building a Spending Plan: Step 6 - Sticking to Your Plan1

Nayda I. Torres, Josephine Turner, and Brenda C. Williams2

You can modify your spending plan. If your income increases, add the amount to the income sheet in Step 3 and Step 5 (see the earlier publications in this series, available online at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_building_a_spending_plan). If you reduce your spending, subtract that amount on the appropriate tables in Step 4 and Step 5. This will allow you to compare the new total income and expenses in Step 5.

To make your spending plan a financial management tool, you will want to complete the following tables (Table 1 and Table 2) at the end of each month after you have paid all your bills. By comparing the planned expenditure amount with the actual amount spent in each category, you can quickly see if you are staying on budget.

If your actual amount is equal to or less than your planned amount, then you are staying on budget. If the actual amount is more than the planned amount, you are overspending. Go back to Step 5 to see if you can think of ways to cut expenses. Then make those cuts in Step 4 so you will not be over budget next month.

Tracking your expenditures in this manner each month will quickly get you back on budget if you make the necessary adjustments. Tracking expenditures will also help you find out exactly how much you can spend and save to achieve your short- and long-term goals.

Get into the habit of keeping and organizing your records. Keep receipts, bank statements, pay stubs, and check registers in a safe place. They are important for your spending plan and at income tax time.

Keep your spending records simple and in a convenient place. You will want to refer to them periodically throughout the year as suggested in these steps. You may also want to compare your spending from year to year. Make a totals page that adds together all the monthly expenditures for each category. (You can use the categories found in Step 4.) Then you can compare year to year.

Try to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Review your financial goals. Does more money need to be directed toward your goals and less money toward current expenses? What expenses can you cut down on or eliminate?

Pay your bills on time. That saves you money because you won’t have to pay late fees. It also builds your credit rating.

Remember to review your spending plan each month by using the following tables. They will help you stick to your spending plan so you have money available to put toward your financial goals. Reaching your goals will provide great satisfaction as you practice better money management.

For the rest of the steps in the Building a Spending Plan series, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_series_building_a_spending_plan.

Tables

Table 1. 
 

Fixed Expenses by the Month

__________ Month, __________ Year

Category

 

Planned (from Step 4, Table 1)

Actual

Housing:

Rent or mortgage

$

$

 

Electricity/Gas

   
 

Water

   
 

Phone

   
 

Cable

   
 

Other

   

Installment Debt:

Car

   
 

Furniture/Appliances

   
 

Loans

   

Child Care:

Babysitter

   
 

Nursery/Day Care

   
 

Other

   

Insurance:

Auto

   
 

Life

   
 

Home

   
 

Health

   
 

Disability

   
 

Other

   

Savings:

Payroll deduction

   
 

Regular savings

   
 

Club accounts

   
 

Other

   

Other:

Tithes

   
 

Other

   

Totals:

 

$

$

Table 2. 
 

Flexible Expenses by the Month

__________ Month, __________ Year

Category

 

Planned (from Step 4, Table 2)

Actual

Food:

Groceries

$

$

 

Restaurants

   
 

Cigarettes

   
 

Cleaning & other supplies

   
 

Other

   

Clothing & Personal Care:

New clothes

   
 

Clothing & shoe repairs

   
 

Dry cleaning

   
 

Hairdresser/Barber

   
 

Other

   

Transportation:

Public

   
 

Maintenance (tune-ups)

   
 

Operation (gas, oil)

   
 

Tags & licenses

   
 

Other

   

Medical Care:

Doctor's bills

   
 

Prescriptions

   
 

Therapy

   
 

Other

   

Education & Recreation:

Books/Magazines

   
 

Movies/Music

   
 

School supplies

   
 

Vacations

   
 

Other

   

Gifts/Donations:

Birthdays

   
 

Holidays

   
 

Charities

   
 

Other

   

Totals:

 

$

$

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS7172, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published: February 1997. Revised: July 2012. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Nayda I. Torres, Professor Emeritus, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Josephine Turner, Professor Emeritus, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; and Brenda C. Williams, Extension Agent IV, Alachua County Extension Office; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.