Family Budgeting

Budgeting 101

This is the time to empower yourself and your family to be more financially secure and in control of your money.  That starts with paying yourself first.  The City Treasurer challenges all Chicagoans to save and live within your means.

Go to to find easy to use savings calculators, and to do a local search for the best savings accounts in the area. You can search for those with the lowest fees and highest interest rates, for example.  You can also get great information from on other financial questions.

Get your budget here…

A budget will allow you to track, manage and plan your expenses.  To learn more about where your hard-earned money is going, write down your expenses instead of just going by memory. Use our downloadable budget to estimate and track your expenses, and set goals for spending.

Explanation of columns on the family budget:

  • The projected column should reflect how much you think you are spending and saving.
  • The actual column helps you to track down your expenses more accurately.
  • The goal column helps you think about where you would like your income and expenses to be.

Here are some quick steps to effectively control your money…

Step One

Determine your monthly household income.  Do you get child support, or social security? Be sure to include all take-home income including your spouse wages, or your retirement income every month.

Step Two

Estimate your weekly expenses in the first column on the budget called Projected..

Step Three

Determine how much you are actually spending for the second column on the budget.  Record all your expenses as you pay them, keep all receipts of everything you purchase and use your bank statements to see your “Spending Leaks.”?  Where is your money going? Download your spending leaks worksheet.

“Spending Leaks”? example:

Expense Daily Cost Weekly Cost Monthly Cost Goal: Sealing the Spending Leak
Coffee during work $3.50 $3.50 x 5 = $17.50 $17.50 x 4 = $70.00 Only spend $10 per week ($40 a month for coffee)
Movie rentals $5.00 $10.00 (2 movies for the weekend) $10.00 x 4 = $40.00 Get more movies from the library, only spend $15 a month on movie rentals

Step Four

Set goals for your spending in the last column.  Do you want to save more for emergencies, or vacations?  Do you find that you are spending too much on eating out, or on late fees and overdraft charges? Can some expenses be cut?

Step Five

Savings! Set goals for spending less and saving more. Do you have automatic deposit into your savings account? Are you “paying yourself first”? by automatically setting aside an amount each month? Even a dollar-a-day can earn interest and grow!

Managing your finances can seem overwhelming, but step by step, you can be in control of your money.  By learning where it goes, setting and meeting goals for your spending, establishing a savings account, and paying yourself first, you will be on the road to financial fitness.