My Monthly Spending Plan

This article features a spending plan calendar and tips to make your plan work.
My Monthly Spending Plan - Articles


This article features a spending plan calendar, directions on how to use it to develop a spending plan for your household, and tips on how to make your plan work.

A spending plan or budget can help you meet your needs for living expenses, pay your bills on time, stay out of debt, and save for things you need and want.

Money Saving Tips

  • Plan meals before you shop and write down needed items on a list.
  • Compare prices of national, store, and generic product brands.
  • Shop at a large grocery store if you can.
  • Do not shop when you are hungry, tired, or rushed.
  • Use credit for emergencies only.
  • Look for free entertainment and recreation.
  • Talk with family members about ways to cut spending.

If these are too highConsider these questions
RentCan you rent unused space to generate income or move to a less expensive location?
TelephoneAre people outside your family using your phone? Are you paying for long distance or special services that could be cut out?
MedicalHave you located free or low-cost community services such as clinics and health care offered at family centers? Have you applied for medical assistance if you are eligible? Can you make lifestyle changes to improve your health?
TransportationWhat trips can you combine? Can you share a ride with neighbors or coworkers? Where can you walk or use a bus or train instead of driving? Is your car costing you more money than it's worth? Can you buy a car that costs less to operate?

Everyone makes mistakes with money, but everyone can learn to be a wise money manager and stay within a spending plan. Start today!

A spending plan or budget can help you:

  • Know when you will get money
  • Know what you are spending money on
  • Meet your needs for living expenses
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Stay out of debt
  • Save for things you need and want

Supplies Needed

  • Two colored pens--red and black
  • One pencil

How to Use the Spending Plan Calendar

  1. Write the dates in the small squares to match the dates of the month.
  2. Using a pencil, in the space labeled My Notes on the right side, write:
    • How much money you expect to get this month (income).
      Total these figures.
    • How much money you expect to spend this month (expenses).
      Total these figures.
  3. Subtract the expected expenses from the income. Do you have money left? If so, set aside an amount for savings or for an item your family plans to buy. If you have more expenses than you have income, you need to cut costs in an area or find ways to earn more money.
  4. Write the name of the bills on their due dates in the calendar in pencil (for example, March 1--rent).
  5. When you GET money, write the amount on the calendar on that day in BLACK ink.
  6. When you SPEND money, write that amount on that day in RED ink.
  7. At the end of the month, add the amount of income (items in black ink). Enter the total on the actual income line. Add the amount of expenses (items in red ink). Enter the total on the actual expenses line.

If you had more income than expenses (black ink), use this money as you planned earlier; if you have more expenses than income, look at past spending to determine how you can cut costs.

How to Make Your Plan Work

  • Save all receipts and store them in the same place.
  • Write items on your calendar EACH day as they occur.
  • Set aside the same amount of money each month for necessities (food, housing, transportation, clothing).
  • Try to save the same amount each month for something you need or want.

Prepared by Cathy F. Bowen, assistant professor of agricultural and extension education, and Rebecca Escott, extension educator, Penn State Extension.

Monthly Spending Plan (PDF)