Follow these instructions to create a basic monthly budget:
1. Write down your monthly gross income from your employment, and add to this number any additional monthly income. Subtract taxes and your tithe. This is the total amount of money you have available each month.
2. Make a chart with four columns labeled "Expense Categories," "Monthly Expenses," "Amount Spent," and "Amount Left Over."
3. Create eleven or more rows under the columns. (The number of rows will depend on the number of expense categories you have.)
4. Under "Expense Categories" write the name of each category or item you spend money on each month; for example, housing, food, car, insurance, debts, entertainment, clothing, savings, medical/dental, miscellaneous, and child care.
5. Under "Monthly Expenses" record the amount needed for each category in a typical month. Use past bills/receipts to help figure these numbers. You can adjust them later if you need more or less. Your goal is to have your total monthly expenses equal your available income.
6. Under "Amount Spent" record throughout the month the amount you spend in each category and what you spent it on. This column will help you track your problem areas. For example, under "Food" you might find you spend a reasonable amount at the supermarket, but the quick trips to the convenience store add up.
7. At the month's end, under "Amount Left Over," record any surplus or deficit in each category.
You can find online budget calculators and other financial planning tools at Crown Financial Ministries Web site, www.crown.org/tools.
God promises to provide all you need. He is the giver of all good things, so create and maintain your budget with prayer and thanksgiving for the good things God has provided.
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" (1 Chronicles 16:34).