How Do I Make a Budget?

To begin a budget based on actual expenses, follow the steps below:

Keep all your receipts. You will need them to create a monthly financial summary.

Create a Word document in landscape mode (or turn an 8 ½"-by-11" piece of paper sideways).

List monthly expenses in the left-hand column. For example: Tithe, Offering, Auto, Gasoline, Food, Rent, Mortgage, etc.

Across the top of the page create a column for each month of the year. For January, total receipts for each expense listed in left-hand column. Example: Write the total for auto, gasoline, food, rent, mortgage, etc. Total each column to see a picture of the amounts spent for that month.

Be sure to include expenses that come around annually, such as birthdays, holidays, and special days. For these, list the names of those you will spend the money on, and how much you will generally spend for each person. Add up the totals, deduct the amount from your income, and put it in savings. When the events arrive, you will have the money to spend on those special people on that special day.

By looking at the 12-month summary, you will have an idea of where your money went. Just knowing this will help you tell your money where to go in the future!

—John Mathews, NAD Stewardship Ministries Director

As appeared in Heart and Treasure, a newsletter from NAD Stewardship Ministries. Read more here:

Monthly budget spending sample form: