Budgeting and Recordkeeping

Budgeting is a powerful financial management tool. A good budget should include:

  • Income from all sources
  • Expenses, including:
    • Housing
    • Utilities
    • Insurance
    • Car expenses - payment, gas, insurance and maintenance
    • Food
    • Entertainment
    • Clothing
    • Medical expenses
  • Savings

Developing a Spending Plan

With a spending plan, you determine how you want to use every dollar of your income. A spending plan can help you:

  • Set goals.
  • Stay on track with your goals. Whatever your goal - save more, pay off debt or make a major purchase - your spending plan is the map to you help you reach it.
  • Choose to spend money on the things that matter to you. With a spending plan, you assign priorities and budget money accordingly.
  • Avoid over spending on things that don't really matter to you.
  • Live within your means.

Here's how to get started:

  • Determine income.
  • Next, track your spending for a month (include bills you pay, and money you spend other than bills).
  • Then categorize your spending. Categories may include savings, housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, entertainment, food - any categories that emerge when you examine your spending.
  • Calculate what you're currently spending in each category as a percentage of your income.
  • Then determine what you want your priorities to be, and how much of your income you want to direct to each priority.
  • Use this as a guide to adjust your spending.

Use our Budgeting Worksheet to help you track your spending plan.

Keeping Good Records

Basic financial recordkeeping should include:

  • A spending log that helps you keep track of the money you spend day-to-day, including cash, debit card usage and checks
  • A record of all bills paid, including the payee, date, amount and method of payment. Online Bill Pay provides a consolidated record of your payments. Learn more about Online Bill Pay
  • Income records, such as paycheck stubs
  • Tax records, including W-2s, 1099s and deductible items such as charitable contributions
  • Insurance records, including car, home, health and life insurance
  • Bank account statements, either on paper or online
  • Savings & investment account statements, including statements and transaction confirmations


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