Planning a budget

A budget shows how much money you have coming in and going out. Working out your weekly or monthly budget is an important step to managing your everyday finances. Once you’ve created a budget, it will help you understand what you need to do next.

Online budget calculator

You can use our online budget calculator to help you work out your budget.

After you put in your details, the online calculator will add everything up for you. You can also get personalised guidance on where you may be able to make changes to help balance your budget.

Writing down your budget on paper

You can choose to plan your budget on a weekly or monthly basis. It depends on what suits your situation. To convert between weekly and monthly amounts:

Weekly amount x 52 ÷ 12 = monthly amount

Monthly amount x 12 ÷ 52 = weekly amount

Three steps to working out your budget

  1. Write down your regular income from all sources and add it all together. This is your total income.
  2. Write down everything you spend (monthly or weekly) and add it all together. This is your total spend. You may not spend money on everything we suggest in our budget calculator, but make sure you include everything that applies to you.
  3. Subtract your total spend from your total income. This gives you your balance. This is the amount you have left over each month (or week, depending how you have calculated).
  4. If the final amount is less than zero, you are spending more money than you have coming in. This is called having a shortfall. If you have a shortfall, you should check whether you can increase your income and look at ways to cut your spending.

Budget calculator

You can use the tables below to help you work out your household budget. We also have an online budget calculator.

When using the tables, decide whether you want to use weekly or monthly figures and use that throughout.

You can convert weekly payments to monthly amounts like this:

Weekly amount x 52 ÷ 12 = monthly amount

You can convert monthly payments to weekly amounts like this:

Monthly amount x 12 ÷ 52 = weekly amount

You can work out the weekly or monthly equivalents of quarterly (four times a year) payments like this:

Quarterly payment amount × 4 ÷ 52 = cost per week

Quarterly payment amount × 4 ÷ 12 = cost per month

Remember to be careful when converting weekly amounts to monthly ones. Multiplying the weekly amount by four will only cover 48 weeks of the year (which is 52 weeks).

Once you've completed the income and spending tables, work out A – B (income minus spending).

A: Weekly/monthly income

Weekly/monthly income
Take-home pay (how much you earn after tax and other deductions)
Sick pay
Personal/occupational/company pension
State pension
State benefits/tax credits
Regular travel cost refunds
Regular income from grants
Income from insurance policies
Income from savings
Contributions from other people in your household
Other income
Total income (A)

B: Weekly/monthly spending

Weekly/monthly spending
Mortgage or rent
Council tax (rates in Northern Ireland)
Regular household bills (water, gas, electricity, TV licence, other)
Telephone (landline, mobile, broadband, subscription TV)
Home insurance (contents, buildings)
Home maintenance costs
Housekeeping (food, toiletries, cleaning products, etc)
Repayments for household goods bought on hire purchase or being rented
Clothing and footwear
Health costs (prescriptions, dental or other)
Motoring costs (tax, insurance, fuel)
Bus and rail fares, other travel

Going out, other leisure, hobbies
Life insurance, medical insurance, other insurance
Regular saving, pension contributions (unless deducted from pay)
Credit card and loan repayments (other than mortgage)
Other spending
Total spending (B)
*Be careful not to count anything twice. For example, if you pay your supermarket bill by credit card each month and then pay the balance off in full each month, the amount should either go under housekeeping or credit card, but not both.

Working out your budget

Fill in the numbers for A (total income) and B (total spending).

Then work out this sum:

A (              ) – B (              ) =

If the answer is less than zero, you have a shortfall.

If you don’t have much money left over, then you may need to reduce your spending or look for ways to increase your income, if possible. You may be able to do this through state benefits, savings, insurance, grants or a pension. The rest of our information on managing your money day-to-day can help with these steps.

Back to Managing your money day to day

Your income

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