Budget Calculator: Free & Easy | Quicken

Build your budget in 3 easy steps

Step 1: How to determine and enter your income

The beginning step in the monthly budget calculator is to determine your monthly income. This will be the amount you can spend every calendar month, so be sure to use your net income, not your gross income .
Gross income is what you make before anything is deducted from your paycheck. net income is what you actually bring home after taking out taxes and any paycheck deductions for things like your retirement or your health policy plan .
To determine what to enter under Salary/Wages in the budget calculator :

  • If you get paid a regular check once a month, simply enter the take-home amount of that check.
  • If you get paid twice a month, add the take-home amount of your two checks together and enter that amount.
  • If you get paid every other week, multiply your take-home amount by 26 for the number of checks you get each year, and then divide by 12 to get your monthly take-home pay. Enter that amount in the budget calculator.
  • If your income changes from month to month, add up your total monthly deposits for the last 3 months and divide that number by 3 to get a monthly estimate. Enter that amount in the budget calculator. If the last 3 months were unusually high or low, add up all your deposits for the past year instead and divide by 12 to get a better average.

If you have extra income such as a english job, child support, alimony, or early supplementary income, add the monthly sum you can spend in the monthly budget calculator under Other Income.

You can besides use this incision to add a second income if you ’ d like to create a joint budget .

Step 2: How to determine and enter monthly expenses

The stay of the budget manufacturer is dedicated to capturing your monthly expenses. Some of these will be specific numbers. Others will be estimates .
This budget calculator guide will walk through each section, step by dance step .

Housing Expenses

Mortgage or Rent: Enter the sum of your monthly mortgage payment in the mortgage box, or the measure of your monthly rend in the economic rent box of the budget calculator .
If you ’ re a homeowner and your property taxes are not included in your mortgage requital, divide those taxes by 12 and add that total to your mortgage to make certain your property taxes are covered in your monthly budget .
HOA Fees: HOA fees are homeowner ’ s association fees, but the budget calculator is flexible, so you can use this box however you need to .
You can leave the box blank if it doesn ’ thyroxine use to you. however, you can besides use it for things like storage rental fees, monthly positron emission tomography fees or parking fees from your landlord, or any other home-related expenses that aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate otherwise covered in this section of the budget godhead .
Home insurance: Use this box for home policy or renter ’ mho indemnity. If your home policy is included in your mortgage requital, don ’ metric ton enter it again here. Each expense should merely be captured once in the budget calculator .
Repairs/Maintenance: Most renters don ’ t need to pay for repairs and care on their rental property. If that applies to you, leave this section lacuna .
If you ’ re a homeowner, or a renter who ’ south responsible for your own alimony and repairs, this can be a unmanageable measure to estimate. In many months, you won ’ t have any alimony costs. In others, you might need to replace a major appliance .
If you ’ ra not certain what to enter in the budget calculator, here are 3 ways to approach the problem :

  1. Do the best you can to estimate a monthly cost
  2. Choose an amount to set aside every month toward a maintenance “fund”
  3. Use your “emergency fund” to cover maintenance and repairs

If you decide to use your emergency investment company, leave the box blank. There will be a box late for your emergency fund contributions .
Water/Gas/Electricity: For many people, these bills change from calendar month to calendar month. If that applies to you, estimate an amount for each one based on the last 3 months of payments or the by year, whichever makes the most sense for your bills .
If you live in a hot or cold climate and these bills vary a lot between winter and summer, you can besides add your most expensive calendar month and your least expensive calendar month together and divide that number by 2. That should give you a full average .
Water bills frequently include a sewage fee. If that fee is distinguish for you, include it in the budget calculator using this line item .
Cable/TV/Internet: For some people, this will be one bill. Simply enter the monthly amount in the budget calculator here. If you get television and internet service from different providers, add those bills together and enter the sum here .
Phone/Cell: If you have both a home phone and a cell earphone, remember to include them both. If you ’ re creating a joint budget and you each have separate cellular telephone serve, remember to include both bills in the budget calculator by adding them in concert .

Transportation Expenses

Car Payment: If you ’ rhenium making payments on a car lend or lease, enter that monthly sum in the budget calculator hera. If you have more than one payment, simply add them together .
Car Insurance: Enter your monthly car insurance payment here. If you pay your car insurance premium every 6 months alternatively of monthly, divide that payment by 6 to get the monthly amount. insert that count in the budget calculator on this line .
Gas/Fuel: If you ’ rhenium not certain what to enter here, think about the last time you filled your cable car ’ mho gas tank. How much did you pay ? then, ask yourself how many times you fill your tank car in an average month. Multiply the two numbers in concert and enter that sum on this line .
Remember, if you ’ re creating a joint or family budget and you pay for gas for more than one vehicle, add the amounts for each vehicle together to get the sum for the monthly budget calculator .
Car Repairs: tied if your car is under guarantee, most car owners placid need to pay for routine care like petroleum changes, brake pads, and fresh tires. This is another place where the measure can vary wildly from one calendar month to the future .
just like home repairs, you can choose from these 3 popular approaches :

  1. Do the best you can to estimate your actual monthly cost
  2. Choose an amount to set aside every month toward a maintenance “fund”
  3. Use your “emergency fund” to cover maintenance and repairs

If you decide to go with your emergency fund for this, leave the box for Car Repairs blank .

Educational Expenses

School Supplies: This line can be used for anything from college books to pads and pencils for your elementary-school kids. If this doesn ’ triiodothyronine apply to you at all, just leave it blank .
College Tuition: If you pay tuition fees by the quarter or semester, add up your total annual tuition and fees and divide by 12 to get a monthly amount. Just remember to set the funds aside each month until that poster comes ascribable .
Student Loans: If you ’ re carrying scholar loans, use this line to enter the sum come you pay on those loans every calendar month. You can besides use this line to budget supernumerary money toward those loans if you want to pay them down faster .
Deciding between paying down loans and building your savings can be hard. If you ’ ra not certain which way to go, check out the FAQ below : Is it more crucial to pay off debt or build my savings ?

Food and Personal Expenses

Groceries/Household: These 2 items are grouped together to cover groceries and supplies. That includes food, personal care items like soap and shampoo, and family supplies like grocery bags. Estimate your monthly grocery store and issue expenses and insert that number on this production line .
If you ’ ra not sure how much to include, add up all your grocery store shop bills from the survive 3 months and divide by 3. That should give you a solid calculate. insert that number into the monthly budget calculator. If the last 3 months were higher or lower than usual, consider averaging your bills over the last 12 months rather .
Entertainment: Take a moment to consider all your even entertainment expenses. That includes everything from dinners at your favorite restaurant to Netflix. Estimate the total measure and figure it here .
Pet Supplies: If you have household pets, remember to add a little supernumerary to this monthly measure to save up for things like annual shots — and kennel fees when you go on vacation. Add that to whatever you pay for monthly supplies like andiron food and cat litter, and enter it here .
Clothing: If you ’ re making a family budget, remember to include adequate to cover the annual cost of new clothes for your growing kids .
even if you don ’ thymine buy raw clothes very often, you should hush enter at least a modest amount to cover the occasional splurge. If you have clothes that you dry clean regularly, remember to include that expense hera .
Medical: This includes the monthly cost of health indemnity plus your out-of-pocket expenses for checkups, alveolar consonant bills, payments on previous aesculapian bills, and any other aesculapian needs .
If you ’ re having trouble estimating this one, think about all your doctor and dentist visits, pressing care visits, and prescription costs in an modal year and watershed by 12 to get a monthly appraisal .
however, if the cost of your medical insurance comes out of your paycheck before you take that paycheck home, preceptor ’ thyroxine enter that cost again hera.

Other Expenses: What kinds of things should you think about for your “ other ” expenses ? here are a few examples :

  • Holiday spending
  • Vacations
  • Birthday presents
  • Babysitting and child care
  • Computers and other electronic devices
  • Recreational vehicles
  • Gardening

This is a highly personal class. It ’ second designed to capture anything that isn ’ t already covered in your budget, so it will be singular to you .
Take a few minutes to think about anything that isn ’ t already covered by the monthly budget calculator. Estimate an come for those expenses and figure it here .

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Step 3: How to determine and enter monthly savings

Emergency Fund: This is where you add your monthly contribution to your emergency fund. If you decided to include things like home or car maintenance here, remember to include adequate to cover those .
Retirement: If you make disjoined contributions every month to a retirement fund out of your take-home give, enter them here. however, if your retirement contributions come out of your paycheck before you take that assay home, don ’ metric ton enter them again .
Investments: Use this tune for any other kinds of savings you might need. If you make contributions to an individual investment score, for model, you can enter those here .
You can besides use this credit line to contribute to any special fund you ’ re investing in, like saving up for a marry, for a car, or for a down payment on a modern home .

Step 4: How to incorporate your budget into your daily life

If you ’ ve taken the fourth dimension to think through your expenses, your day by day life should fit your budget fairly well. Watch your budget and track your spend for a few months to see where you might be systematically over or under your budget .
If you ’ re systematically above or below your target amount, simply adjust your budget however you need to .
once your budget fits your needs, stick with it by finding small ways to reward yourself for your achievements. Buy yourself a coffee bean every time you contribute to your savings, for exercise. Those little things can mean a lot when it comes to building habits .
last, if you want to keep closer pill on your spend and make it easier to track, consider using a personal finance app to help you stay on top of your budget .

Budgeting FAQs

Why is a budget important?

By planning ahead for large ( and even unexpected ) expenses, you ’ ll have the money you need no matter what comes up in liveliness, without resorting to expensive credit cards and personal loans .
As a solution, you ’ ll pay a batch less when those things happen, and you ’ ll have a fortune more peace of beware in your daily life .
Budgets can besides help you pay down debt and build your savings if you build those into your plan. By making a long-run plan for your finances, you ’ ll have what you need for the things you want to do today and the confidence of knowing that you have a solid plan for the future .

What’s the best way to stick to my budget?

The most important thing you can do to stick to your budget is to make certain it ’ s realistic. That means including all your expenses, saving for the unexpected, and making certain the amounts in your budget truly meet your needs .
Including doing what you love !
People frequently think budgeting is about hoarding every dime, but it truly international relations and security network ’ metric ton. It ’ second more about long-run planning. A good budget sets aside some money for savings and paying down debt, includes enough to cover your bills, and silent gives you some spending money left over .
If you keep running into unexpected bills, add more to your savings every month to cover them. If you ’ re spend more than you intended on entertainment, try to budget more for that .
Your budget is alone to you. Restructure it until it ’ sulfur working for what you very need .

What is the 50-30-20 budget rule?

The 50-30-20 budget is a simpleton way to start budgeting without using sol many categories. rather of creating a budget based on categories like transportation costs and groceries, this budget uses good 2 categories : needs and wants .
The rule suggests using 20 % of your pay on paying off debt or building your savings. then, keep your needs to about 50 % of your give, giving you the survive 30 % to spend on the things you want ( but don ’ t need ) .
It ’ s not a bad way to get started, but it isn ’ thyroxine very structured .
In saving for retirement, saving for emergencies, saving for maintenance funds, making certain you have enough for annual vacations, and paying down long-run debt, things can get complicated. A budget with specific categories can help you create a plan with more fiscal dominance .
specific categories besides help you see where your money is going, making it easier to adjust your spend when your life changes or when you want to start planning for something new .

Is it more important to pay off debt or build my savings?

The answer to this interview is specific to you, but there are a few guidelines that can help in making this choice .

  1. As a general rule, pay off expensive debt as quickly as you can — debt with a high interest rate. Credit card debt often falls into this category.
  2. If you’re saving for bills you know are coming, such as property taxes or college tuition, those are clearly important and need to be prioritized.
  3. If your employer has a retirement matching plan, try to contribute enough to your retirement each month to claim the full amount they’re offering.
  4. Once those things are included in your budget, it’s a good idea to start building some short-term savings in an emergency fund.

What is an emergency fund?

Your emergency fund is the money you ’ ve saved up to handle life ’ second unexpected challenges .
Although you can use it for anything you need, it ’ second called an emergency store because it can cover your monthly expenses if you end up between jobs for a time or if you need to take a medical leave that goes beyond your job ’ mho allowance .
Your emergency fund is separate from your retirement fund, which normally comes with penalties if you need to withdraw funds from it early. You should be able to access the money in your emergency store cursorily and well .

What’s a good target for my savings?

A good rule of thumb for your emergency fund is to save up enough to cover your expenses for 3–6 months. This might sound ambitious, but it ’ s a good goal to build into your plan .

How can I save more money?

The inaugural step in saving more money is to pay off your high-interest debt. Once that debt is paid off, you can use the money you used to spend on monthly payments to build your savings .
But a budget is besides a great way to save more money. once you take control of your outgo and track it in categories so you know where it ’ sulfur going, you ’ ll start to see places where you can cut back .
You might find subscriptions you aren ’ thymine using anymore. Or you might decide you ’ vitamin d preferably cook a bit more much alternatively of ordering takeout .
Budgeting international relations and security network ’ metric ton about depriving yourself of the things you love. It ’ mho about making certain you ’ re spending your money where you actually want to spend it, so you can do more both today and tomorrow .


Take control of your budget with Quicken Deluxe
Get an automatic, amply customizable budget
Save Today

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Category : Finance

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