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Organizing and Managing a Budget

Organizing and managing a budget works much the same way as organizing and managing your time. There are several steps to take as you go about organizing and managing your money. First, I’ll review the steps to take to organize your budget.

Organizing A Budget

Track how you are currently using your money

For one month keep track of every bit of your spending. Keep and organize all receipts – even for cash purchases. If you didn’t get a receipt, write the amount down on a piece of paper in your wallet or on another receipt that you have. I’m a pencil and paper girl when it comes to tracking and managing my money but there are also apps that can help you with your money tracking. As I said, I am a paper/pencil girl so I have not personally tried these.

Think back on previous years. Do you spend more money some months than others? Many people spend more money during the holiday season or during vacation time. Estimate how much extra money you will want for those special times.

Be aware of how much money you have available monthly

Do you receive or allow yourself to withdraw the same amount of money each month?  If your income is irregular, can you estimate your expected income for each month and then estimate your average income? Having a grasp of these numbers will help you as you are organizing your budget.

Do you usually get a refund after filing your taxes or do you have to pay?

Categorize your spending

How much are you spending on:

  • Rent or mortgage payments – include any HOA fees
  • Utilities – including your phone and internet
  • Household expenses – items you buy for your home
  • Subscriptions – magazines, newspapers
  • Hired help – lawn care, cleaning team, etc.,
  • Insurances
  • Auto expenses and/or other transportation expenses
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment, travel, and eating out
  • Annual membership fees
  • Personal care – haircuts, manicures, pedicures, etc.
  • Clothes
  • Gifts
  • Donations
  • Medical
  • Paying off loans
  • Fees – bank fees, credit card fees,
  • Taxes
  • Savings
  • Anything else that is not listed here

Assign amounts to each category

As you are putting together how much you are spending each month, put that information into a category.

Decide how much you can spend in each category.

Start with categories that are currently set and not negotiable. These are your basic fixed expenses. If you pay rent, that is not negotiable. Most insurance fees are set. If you are paying off a student loan, that is also usually fixed.

Put those amounts down by the categories. Add them up and deduct that from what you have coming in.

Now decide how much you have available for the other categories. This can be a real juggling act and a real eye-opener.

Play with it until the outgo is less than income.


What do you need and what do you want?

You need a phone, but do you need all the bells and whistles?

You need to eat but do you need to eat out every day?

Get rid of what you don’t need.

As you analyze your spending you may find you are paying for things you don’t even use. You may have signed up for a free (for so long) program that you are now paying for but rarely using.

Organizing a budget takes a lot of time at the beginning. But once it is set up, it just needs monthly maintenance.

Managing Your Budget

At the end of each year reevaluate. Has the cost of some items on your budget gone up? Has your income increased? Reevaluate how much money you have assigned to each category and adjust it for the next year.

If you track and manage your money you will find that you have more money for the things that are really important to you. When you know where your money goes your life is less stressful. You don’t worry about overspending and late fees.

If you are ready to organize and manage a budget, or ready to work on any other organizing project join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space For You virtual clutter support group. The group will offer ideas, support, and gentle accountability for working on developing plans or projects.


Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.




  • I like your no-nonsense approach to budgeting. Identifying the non-negotiables and negotiables is crucial to managing your resources better. Also, evaluating expenditures that can be eliminated or reduced is helpful. We recently re-evaluated our insurance policies (auto, home, liability) and switched to a different company. We saved thousands of dollars. We benefitted greatly by switching providers.

  • Seana Turner says:

    Setting up categories is a great idea. My husband and I did this when we started using Quicken. It has taken us awhile to really get these clear, as expenses arose that we didn’t originally anticipate. Having to assign everything to a category is a good discipline for us, and it makes it easy to see where we are actually spending our money!

  • Julie Bestry says:

    I used Mint to monitor my budget for years, and I’ll never forgive Intuit for folding it into Credit Karma, as the budgeting aspect is now gone. It was so nice to know that I’d used 53% or 87% or whatever portion of any given budget category on any particular day of the month.

    I’m trying out an app that’s not on the list to which you linked, but I’m glad to have your link as a backup. Thanks for that.

    I honestly don’t know how people keep within their means without having some sort of budget, so I’m glad you provided this outline for those who’ve not yet set one up.

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