Home Budget Analysis Tool Overview
Many people feel like they are living from paycheck to paycheck. This may be due to the fact they simply don't make much money. Quite often, though, it's because they simply aren't getting their money's worth due to not paying attention to just what they're spending their money on. The first and best step to gaining control of your monthly finances is to analyze just what you're spending your money on.
The Home Budget Analysis Tool lets to see exactly what's taking a bite out of your budget each month. It lets you see, both in hard figures and in pie-chart form, exactly where you're spending money and what proportion of your monthly income goes to each. If something's out of whack, you can clearly see where you need to make changes.
This tool allows you to look at your budget with a high level of detail. You can see not only your taxes, but specifically what you're paying in federal, state, local, Social Security and Medicare taxes, for both you and your spouse, along with other mandated withholdings as well. There are separate entries for your mortgage, up to two auto loans, credit cards and other debts. You can individually enter your various utility bills, tally up the costs of various kinds of insurance and tally up all those other expenses like groceries, travel, entertainment, medical bills and more.
It will also show you how much you have available to put into savings each month, and will allow you to explore ways to reduce spending in various areas to allow you to start saving more.
Your monthly expenses will generally fall into two categories. Some costs are largely fixed, like your taxes, mortgage payments and certain flat-rate utility bills. You may be able to alter those over time – such as refinancing your mortgage or finding new tax shelters – but they're mostly inflexible.
Other spending, such as grocery, entertainment, travel, general merchandise, certain services like cable TV, etc. are more flexible. You can vary these pretty much at will, reducing what you spend on these at will. These are your targets for reducing spending if you need to.
Using the Home Budget Analysis Tool
Fill in your information in the fields indicated. A few things to note:
- For "House payment" enter only the amount of your mortgage payment itself. Do not include payments for real estate taxes or homeowner's insurance – for a proper breakdown of your spending, those should be entered in the boxes labeled "other taxes and withholdings" at the top and "home" in the insurance section.
- Some costs, such as home maintenance, medical, travel and gifts may be irregular. The more accurately you can estimate your actual spending on these, the more useful your budget analysis will be.
- When you have entered all your information, click "View report" for a full breakdown of your monthly budget by both dollar amount and percentage of the total, and a tallies of your total monthly and annual spending.