How to Prepare Personal Budget

7 Key Steps on Personal Budget

personal budget

Personal budget is a financial plan that shows an individual or family incomes and spending plan. It is the best way for anyone to take control of personal finances. Simple tool like personal budget helps you to understand where the money goes in and out of your household. The key to managing your personal expenses is to know your expenses and spend less than your income. A good monthly or weekly personal budget could help you consciously achieve your financial goals.

To create a personal budget, simply follow the 7 steps outlined below:

1. Assess your Personal and Financial situation

The first and critical point of personal budget preparation is self-assessment. Assess your earning level, spending habit and financial net worth. Assessment should also include understanding of your personal needs, values and life situations such as health, family dependent, commitments and even the general economic conditions. You cannot set a smart goal if do not know your current values and situation.

2. Set your Personal and Financial goals

At this stage it is important to distinguish your wants from the needs. This process will help you to prioritize your goals. For example if you are preparing a personal budget for one year, you need to state your goals in that one year and long term goals that would require savings in the current year. Short term goals may include paying for rent whiles long term could be higher education or set up a business in 3 years time.

Every financial goal you set should be a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Framed.

3. Set out your Sources of Income

To prepare a monthly budget, you need to determine how much income you earn in a month. Where does your income comes from?  List the sources of your income and the amount that comes in from each source.  For example of personal sources of income would include salaries, stipend from sponsors, allowance from parents, or income from investments. For salary earners, it will become simple if you can use the net salary credited to your bank account instead of the gross pay.

4. Estimate the Expenses

Create a budget for fixed and variable expenses based on your projected income and goals. This is where you prepare the real expense budget. The budget should consider your personal situation and goals identified in step 1 and 2 above. Fixed budget will includes expense and incomes that are contractual such as house rent, loan repayment, utility bill, salaries etc. Variables needs are the non-contractual but important and it may include transport, food, entertainment, vacation, donation etc.

It will be helpful to group related incomes and expenses together. Such grouping are called income or expense category.

If you have a monthly savings target (and I think you should), include it as an expense.  It is much easier to save money if you consciously planned for it in your budget.  Your savings account can be very helpful, if you run into unforeseen expenses. In fact, financial experts recommended that first payment from any salary should be to pay yourself first (savings).

5. Balance the Budget and Adjust

You have to simply sum all your income and expenses. Find out if you have a surplus budget or deficit. Surplus is when your budgeted income is more than the expenses and deficit is the opposite.

This is how Basket Mouth will say it: If you have surplus, you are safe but if you have deficit, you have two things to do: Find ways and adjustments to increase your income or you should consider cutting elsewhere to keep expenses under control..

Remember a budget have to be realistic. While a budget can be a great tool for managing finances, it can quickly become overwhelming if it’s overly detailed or idealistic. Then, keep it simple.

6. Monitor Actual Income and Expenses

Take a look at your spending every month and compare it to your personal budget. Monitoring can only work when you keep record of your expenses and income. You need to record all your income and expenses as your incur them. This is a continuous stage which also require to implement your budget by avoiding non critical unplanned spending.

7. Compare your budget to what you have actually Spent.

Try to trace the variances between your actual spending to budgeted expenses. Variance analysis help you understand the categories where you spend most. It will also help you understand the extend of your success towards the set financial goals.

Any application for Personal Budget ?

The most common application for personal budget preparation is the Microsoft Excel. Other applications like also offers on a free app in the Applet Store.

personal budget

Well, if you have never prepared a personal budget before, it is time you start thinking about how to manage your hard earn money. The beginning can be uninteresting for some people, however prior financial planning can prevent many problems and personal budget management is one of the tools.

About Ebrima Sawaneh 118 Articles
My Name is Ebrima. I write about personal finance, small business, and The Gambia to support young people. I am an accountant, banker, and Amazon international bestselling author. Feel free to drop a message or download my free eBooks - HERE read


  1. I am aspiring to become a successful business man and I am really relying on this site to start up and make it up. I find every information educative and I want to thank you for showing me what I have been looking for years. I am also seeking guidance on how to start and rise as a business man.

  2. This is just great! I remember when I started budgeting my personal finances in 2011(because of the fact that I ended finding myself with 0 Dalasi just few days after receiving my salary) many of my colleagues used to laugh at me…. To tell you the truth In the beginning my budgetin used to fail but after many trials and learning my lessons in every failure of it, things started getting in order, now financialy I am way better off then many of the ones who were laughing at me. And am still learning to master my personal finance. Every Gambian should apply this principle, especially youths. I Also advice my fellow civil servants to adopt the the personal budgetin steps, cause we know how are on our side with regards to our salaries!
    Many thanks to the great minds that built this website, May the Almighty God blesses you in a thousand fold! For He is the One who giveth the power to acquire wealth and He added no sorrow to it!

    • When I started budgeting in Excel, some of my friends thought that I am a typical miser. However, the planning helped separation of important goals like tuition fees and less ones like a new phone.
      Ameen to all your prayers. I like the last quote.”For He is the One who giveth the power to acquire wealth and He added no sorrow to it!”

  3. You are right that the wants are unlimited and we therefore wisely allocated the limited resources.

  4. It a very wonderful piece, everyone must budget to make good decisions in financing the unlimited individual and family wants.

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