Keeping a budget book: keeping track of your finances

Writing pad, ballpoint pen, calculator

Often the overview of the expenditures is lost and one asks oneself: Where remains actually my money? No matter what you call it – budget book, income-expense overview, budget planner or money diary – the point is to get an overview of the household finances! The overview of income and expenses helps to regain clarity and perhaps also to uncover the first causes of tight budgets. This way, high insurance costs can be the first indication of overinsurance. Whether you buy a budget book, create an Excel spreadsheet, use a sheet of paper or install an app is up to you. The main thing is that you do it! Example tables can be found at the end of this text.

Lay down Bank statements and Earning statements, Insurance documents and Other contractual obligations ready – and then you’re ready to go. How to do it:

Step 1: Write down regular income

Here it concerns the incomes, which are really always present: Wages, child benefit, unemployment benefit o.a. Money gifts for birthdays or Christmas bonuses should be here not be taken into account.

Step 2: Identify all fixed expenses

These are expenses that occur regularly and cannot be changed in the short term such as rent, energy costs, telephone, membership fees, etc.

Expenses that occur only once or twice a year (e. g.B. insurances or car taxes), convert to a month. Enter this value under "Fixed expenses" and put the amount aside as a reserve.

If you notice that the fixed monthly expenses exceed the income, check whether there are contracts that are unnecessary or can be reduced. If nothing more goes, use early free offers to the debtor consultation of the consumer centers, the free welfare service or the municipalities.

You only need to do steps 1 and 2 once, and you can use the amounts in subsequent months. Unless something changes.

Step 3: Determine budget for variable expenses

Income – Fixed expenses = available budget for the variable expenses or also "the money to live". Tip: Divide this amount by four and you will know how much money you can spend per week to avoid going into the red.

Step 4: Write down all changeable expenses

Note the variable expenses as completely as possible. For a better overview you divide the expenses into categories like "food and drinks" or "clothing a.

Tip: Collect shopping receipts and do not forget smaller amounts. Write down small amounts for which you don’t get a receipt on a piece of paper. Purchases paid by card and eventually debited from the account also belong in the budget planner. Otherwise the accounting will not be correct in the end.

Collect receipts and notes in a box, take time once a week and enter them into the budget planner.

Step 5: Take stock – once a month

Add up the variable expenses and subtract this sum from the available budget.


1875 € available budget
– 1720 € variable expenses
= 155 € for reserves

If the result is positive? Target achieved! Now you have the possibility to set aside this sum for purchases, the nest egg or precautions.

If the result is negative? Think about where or. in which category you can save. You may find that a great deal of money has been spent on out-of-home meals. Here you could counteract by preparing more yourself and planning the purchase.

Keeping a budget book does not necessarily help to make more money. Especially with a tight income the margin is narrow. However, firstly, you can see where the money is going, and secondly, you can take better countermeasures. You decide how to use your money. And last but not least, this gives you the opportunity to set aside specific amounts for necessary purchases or for a nest egg.

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