How to Make a Home Budget

Tally your household income, then divide it into three categories.

Courtney JespersenJanuary 15, 2020
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On a similar note...
How to Make a Home Budget

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If you live with other people, you probably share a lot of things in your home — the food, the couch and, possibly, the bills.

So why not also share a budget? Here’s how to make a home budget that will help keep the spending of everyone under your roof under control.

What is a home budget?

A home budget is a spending plan that accounts for the income and expenses of a household. That could include a couple or roommates who contribute to joint costs.

A home budget can be oriented around the 50/30/20 guideline. According to the 50/30/20 budget, 50% of your monthly take-home income is devoted to needs, 30% to wants and 20% to savings and debt repayment.

In a home budget, your monthly take-home income should account for the income of both you and your partner, for instance.

How to make a home budget

Make a home budget much like you would build any budget. Here are four steps:

  • Do the math. Start with your combined take-home income. Input this figure into our 50/30/20 budget calculator to see how much you should ideally be spending each month in each category.

  • Inventory everything. Tally your current spending to see how you’re doing right now. Don’t forget that you’ll need to account for expenses that might not be as obvious in your own personal budget. A home budget should include things like child care and college savings, for instance. Talk to your partner or the other members of your household to ensure you’re accurately reflecting all of your spending.

  • Find a household budget template. Download a budget template or spreadsheet and adapt it for your household. NerdWallet has a free budget worksheet that can be tailored to your financial situation. For instance, you can select if you’re a parent, homeowner, senior, etc.

  • Implement changes. Once you know where you stand, find ways to maintain or cut back. Some budget apps can be shared by more than one person so your whole household can log and track spending together.

Regardless of how old you are or how many people you're living with, a home budget is a great way to motivate everyone in your household to help out with saving money.

Automate your budget with NerdWallet

Track spending by category, compare months and spot ways to save.

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