42+ Sample Budget Checklists

What Is a Budget Checklist?

A budget checklist is a comprehensive checklist that is intended to help an individual or organization properly budget and manage their finances based on their needs and monetary goals.

According to an article by the Ascent, Americans spend an average of $610 on food each month. The same article also reported that the average single person spends $329 more each year than their take-home pay.    

Financial Tips for Beginners 

If you are a total newbie when it comes to finances, don’t fret. There are a number of ways you can begin your journey towards better financial health. You do not have to be an economist or financial expert to learn practical money-saving tips. In this case, the little steps are what matter and gradually building good money habits is the way to achieving financial literacy. 

Don’t use a credit card or only use it sparingly. The ease and lure of owning a credit card is one of the primary reasons why a lot of people are drowning in debt. Yes, credit cards do have their share of advantages such as convenience and rewards. But like most things, it comes with a big if. Ideally, only apply for a credit card if you are certain you can use it responsibly and are mature enough to know the consequences of using one. You must be religious when paying for credit card bills every month. Late payments and non-payments incur penalties that can accumulate over time. The last thing you want is to keep adding to your debt with each passing month. Whenever possible, use other payment methods such as cash, debit card or bank transfer. There is a big difference when you are spending money that you have as opposed to money you do not have.Set aside a portion of the money you receive every payday. This can be done in multiple ways. Of course, how much you are willing to set aside will largely depend on you. The common rule is to allot 20% of your monthly income to savings. You can increase the percentage value as you see fit. If you are fortunate enough to have a steady flow of income and a regular paycheck each month, then all the more you ought to invest in your savings. It is important to have savings because you will never really know what unexpected circumstances or emergencies lie down the road. In a nutshell, the responsible thing to do is basically avoid wasting your hard earned money. You need to pay for all kinds of monthly expenses, but try to allocate a chunk of your earnings to savings as well. It’s a simple yet impactful first step towards a healthier financial life. Live within your budget. What is harder than sticking to a budget? It’s drowning in debt and being unable to pay for the things you need. When you live within your budget, you are able to manage your finances in a practical and responsible way. But if you live an excessive lifestyle or one that your income cannot keep up with, then that can cause a potentially big problem. It is not wrong to borrow money for one’s needs; but it can spiral out of control when you constantly take out loans in order to fund an excessive lifestyle or satisfy personal wants and compulsive habits. If you want to cultivate a healthier financial state, it is important not to live beyond your means. You must establish a clear line between your needs and wants. However, if you desperately want something you cannot afford, you can either save up for it or look for a more economic alternative.

Examples of Budget Checklists 

You can budget essentially anything that’s important to you. Whether it is for personal or professional reasons, a budget checklist can make all the difference in your financial planning and preparation. The following examples are just some common ways a budget checklist can be applied. 

Wedding Budget. Unless you have an unlimited supply of funding, you would definitely need a budget for your wedding. Wedding costs can be very expensive especially if it is not planned properly. For ease and convenience, many couples hire wedding planners or event organizers and their services are usually incorporated in the budget as well. Typical wedding expenses include wedding venue, catering, floral arrangements, invitations, photography and decorations. For some, the list can run longer, especially if it is a big wedding. Thus it is important to keep a budget checklist or spreadsheet to stay on top of all these. It can be easy to lose track of deadlines and reminders amidst the pressure and demands of planning a wedding. A wedding budget checklist is a straightforward tool that couples and wedding planners alike can use to maximize and optimize funding for the event. Business Budget. Another use for a budget checklist is for professional and business related scenarios. A business budget can entail several different costs, depending on many factors including organization size and capital resources. Like individual or personal expenses, business costs should also be prioritized according to their importance and urgency. Common and universal examples of business expenses include marketing costs, employee wages, and operating or overhead costs (e.g., rent, utilities). The need for a budget checklist is obvious in this case. Since there are many expenses to keep track of, a checklist would be helpful for anyone who wants to carefully monitor the company’s finances.Household Budget. A household budget is essential for any family or even individuals who live independently. Running a household is far from easy. Especially if a home has several members living under the same roof, it is the responsibility of the head of the household to keep track of all the expenses and other monetary-related concerns. Examples of basic household expenses include rent, mortgage, school tuition, food, groceries, gas, water, and electricity. These are considered needs and does not even include recreational expenses such as family vacations, dining out, personal shopping and entertainment expenses. Because of the sheer number of potential expenses a household may be subject to, proper budgeting is needed. A budget checklist that enumerates all these different costs can be very useful when planning and implementing financial goals. College Budget. College is an important milestone for many people. But the reality for others is that it is expensive and difficult to get into. A lot of families cannot even afford to send their children to college. With the exception, of course, of those who are able to obtain academic and athletic scholarships. But for the vast majority, college can remain but a distant dream. Even so, college students who obtain scholarships can still incur other expenses for books, school supplies, etc. A typical college budget would consist of a number of basic expenses such as tuition, meals, school supplies, and transportation. In some cases, lodging, utilities and student loans may also apply. A college student budget would obviously depend on individual circumstances and needs. Yet it’s still safe to say that a budget checklist would be of great help to any college student who wants to get their finances in order.

How to Create a Budget Checklist

To create a budget checklist, you need to establish what kind of budget you want first. If you are looking for ideas, browse the sample templates from the collection above. Choose one that meets your needs and follow the step-by-step guide below. 

Step 1: Objective 

The first step in making a budget checklist is to establish your objective. There can be several reasons why someone would need or want a budget checklist. If you have a specific reason, it might be a good idea to jot it down to remind yourself of the end goal. Sticking to a budget can be challenging especially if unexpected issues occur. But with a clear end goal in mind, you can plan better and anticipate problems with more confidence and clarity. In addition to being specific, you want to keep your objective brief and straightforward as well. One or a couple of lines or bullet points should do.  

Step 2: Income

The next step is to identify your sources of income. A basic budget should consist of both income and expenses. In order to craft an accurate and practical budget, enumerate all revenue streams or channels. Whether active or passive income, make sure to include it in the checklist. The most common and obvious source of income is active employment. No matter how much you earn in a month, it is still important to know how to budget effectively. To avoid spending excessively or wasting your hard-earned money on needless wants, it is important to learn how to track and manage your income.      

Step 3: Expenses 

Along with income, expenses are a crucial part of a budget. You need to have a firm understanding of where your earnings go. What do you spend your money on? Are these expenses essential or non-essential? Which of these expenses are fixed or flexible? These are the types of questions you must ask in order to create a comprehensive budget checklist. It might also help to categorize or classify your expenses according to type or importance. Again, keep in mind that prioritization is key. Once you know what expenses you can do without or with less, then you can make the necessary adjustments and changes to your budget.     

Step 4: Actual Amount and Monitoring  

The work does not end with an accounting of your income and expenses. A budget checklist is a work-in-process. You must have a monitoring or tracking mechanism in place to see if you are following through with your budget. The premise being that a budget mostly entails planning and preparation; however, it does not mean that the budget plan is always followed. Sometimes, you can go over budget or underspend. Regardless, it is important to note this in your document. This is crucial so that you can compare and properly track your finances. 


How do I make a budget checklist?

To make a budget checklist, you need to have an adequate assessment or accounting of both your income and expenses. Refer to the previous section for more detailed instructions on how to create a budget checklist.

What is the 50 20 30 budget rule?

The basic rule is that 50% of your monthly income should go to needs or essential expenses; the other 30% to wants and the remaining 20% ought to be kept for savings.

What are the 5 basic elements of budgets?

According to Harvest Financial Planning, the five basic elements of a budget are income, fixed expenses, flexible expenses, unplanned expenses and savings.

If you are looking for a simple way to start taking your finances seriously, creating a budget checklist is a step in the right direction. Browse the sample templates above, select a sample checklist that suits your needs and start budgeting today!