THE CHRISTIAN'S GUIDE TO
BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP

Practical biblical stewardship advice, tools, tips, and techniques

 

Budget Calculator

 




Budget and Goals


A budget is the most basic tool to help with managing God's money. A budget calculator will help you compute estimated income, and expenses. However, before you can do the budget, you need to identify goals you plan to achieve. The goals show what you plan to do in the budget period. If you have no goals you will get lost. Then again, goals without plans are useless. You need plans to show the steps you will follow to do the goals.

The budget calculator has two parts, the income section and the expenses section. Both parts of the budget calculator are essential to preparing the budget. We use a separate income budget calculator to stress the need to calculate the amount available to spend before you decide how much you should allocate to spend. This is vital. I repeat, before you use the budget calculator, ensure you identify and agree goals you plan to do in the period. Then, you need to develop supporting plans you think you will follow to do these goals.

You do not need to finish using this budget calculator for your entire budget in one session. Save the budget computation form data to the file generated automatically: "expenses.mgm." You can view this file only by clicking the "Restore Saved Work" button below. Develop the habit of saving the result of the budget calculator (budget computation forms) before clicking the Create Worksheet.


Budgeting


SO what is budgeting? Before you start to use this budget calculator to prepare your budget, let us review quickly budgets and budgeting. A budget is a spending plan; your best estimate of resources—time, talents and money—you are likely to need during a specific future period to do specific goals. A budget is a freeing tool without which you stumble along and advertisements dictate how you spend. A budget starts with God's goal(s), followed by plan(s)—steps to do His goal(s). The budget quantifies this plan, and helps identify potential gaps and opportunities during the budget period, so you might plan to remove gaps, and seize opportunities. Many people fear the word budget, that's why we refer to it often as a spending plan, a guide, not a straitjacket but a key part of PEACE Budgetary Control that begins with setting goals.



Budgeting: PEACE Budgetary Control


After doing the budget, Act - do what you planned, Compare results against the plan and the budget, and then, Execute needed changes:

PEACE Diagram



PLAN for a specific period to do specific goals ESTIMATE and record expenses needed to do these goals
ACT on the plan and record results as you progress to your goals
COMPARE actual spending with estimated expenses and progress toward doing your goals
EXECUTE needed changes to remain on course to do the goals

Budgeting is preparing the budget—methodical allotment and recording of what you need to do to get to specific goals. It is iterative—the Planning and Estimating phase of PEACE; the counting the cost before acting stage. In Luke 14:28 (NIV), Jesus told His disciples about the cost of discipleship: Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

We call our the budgeting process and budget calculator, a GPS budgeting system (Goals, Plans, Spending Plans). It involves five steps:
  1. Deciding the amount available to spend; the upper limit you should not exceed
  2. Deciding amounts to spend on specific categories for the period (usually, one month)
  3. Placing cash for each category in an envelope
  4. Spending only when funds are available in the specific envelope--no funds mean, no spending
  5. Refilling each envelope with its budget at the start of each month

Envelope Budgeting


Our envelope budget system is a key budgeting tool. It is simple and does the following:

  1. Calculates income available to spend
  2. Allocates available amounts to categories
  3. Creates a worksheet
  4. Creates envelope images showing amounts for each category on the worksheet
  5. Saves Budget Computation Form amounts in the spreadsheet for editing and updating
  6. Saves worksheet categories to a spreadsheet to track spending against budget

This envelope budgeting tool allows you to spend cash available in envelopes and, or, by clicking the button below, track spending on each category manually on a worksheet. Alternatively, you could choose to transfer worksheet data to a spreadsheet by clicking the "Save to Spreadsheet File" button at the foot of the worksheet form. If you use this budgeting tool diligently, with or without envelopes, you will lower spending.

For more on PEACE Budget Control, refer to The New Managing God's Money-The Basics chapters 8-10.

Budgeting Calculator: Deciding Amounts Available to Spend


GPSincome The income budget calculator sets the stage for your expense allocation; it sets the upper limit of proposed spending. As you complete the income and expenses budgeting calculators, use suitable frequencies for budget categories. If you get income weekly, enter amounts under the weekly section--the system calculates amounts for other columns automatically. If you entered 10 in the weekly column, it divides 10 by seven days and multiplies that result by 365 days to get 521 for the year. After, it divides 521 by 12 to get 43 for the month. This procedure applies to both income and expenses budgeting calculators.

Calculate and enter estimated income from all sources. Develop the mind-set all income goes to God's bank account. Your goal is to let Him guide amounts He keeps and amounts available to spend. That's why giving is the first deduction item, even before taxes. Since it's all God's, ask Him to tell you the amount to enter in this row.

Before completing other entries, review this Cost of debt Quarterly Letter, and the Capital Fund.

Budgeting Calculator: Allocating Available Funds To Categories

GPSexpenses

This is the expenses budget calculator that you complete only after calculating the amount available to spend. Likely you will not know your spending pattern, so you will need to use your best estimates to allocate spending to the Budget Computation Expenses Form. What do you think likely income and expenses will be? Tough question, but you can answer it using information available. As you record spending over the next three to six months, you will learn your spending pattern and you can modify the budget (best estimates) on the spreadsheet file or on the expenses computation form. A spending fast will help during this challenging period.

As you prepare your budget, try to identify units you wish to monitor. don't try to"manage" dollar amounts--money isn't manageable, it the units behind money that's manageable. Instead of budgeting $250 for clothing without identifying what's included, specify clothing items (units) you wish to buy, then cost each (price). Show the cost on the expenses form. Keep details of these calculations to help with your budget review--the "C" in PEACE. I repeat, the key control unit isn't dollars, but what's behind the dollars. For meals, decide how many times you will eat out monthly and use a cost for each; monitor the number of times you eat out and the budgeted prices. If you focus on dollars only, you won't deal with real control variables, which your behaviour influences.

After you enter your expenses on the form, "Save Your Work," then click "Create Worksheet." The name of the file saved will be "expenses.mgm." You can open it only by clicking, "Restore Saved Work"--unlike other files, clicking on it won't open it. The worksheet form will give options to "Create Envelopes" for each category on the budget computation form, and save to "Spreadsheet File." More guidelines are on the worksheet form.

Budgeting Worksheet: Money Map

may25widemap The Money May is a key budget worksheet. It is a portion of your budget that you travel with, not a complete budget. If you plan to do a full budget, go to the Incomes Form.

Have you ever wanted to take parts of your budget with you when you go on your spending trips? Over the next week, you want to go to the mall to buy clothes, birthday and Christmas gifts, and bulk toiletries, which you budgeted. Then again, you plan to go on vacation and do not want to overspend your budget for transport, food, shelter, and recreation.

The Money Map will help you spend for specific planned items at pre-determined prices. The Money Map system will give you a separate worksheet (your map) with expense categories and budgets to help track spending on the road. Don't leave home without it.

To activate the Money Map budget worksheet, enter amounts in the Budget Computation Expenses Form's weekly section only and ignore amounts the system calculates for other periods. For the Money Map calculations only, you do not need to enter amounts in the Income Form.

If you are going away for a week and plan to spend "gas" $100, "dining out" $350, "accommodation" $400, and "movies and shows" $50, enter these amounts in the weekly section of the Expenses Form, then click "Create Money Map." You will go to the "Money Map Worksheet" screen where you will see these amounts under "Weekly Budget." There you will be able to change amounts if needed.

The Money Map Worksheet does not replace the budget, it represents items included in the budget, which you want to isolate and track over a period shorter than the budget period.

Budget Calculators



You can move between the fields with the keyboard, using either Tab and Shift+Tab or using CTRL+arrow key.

Incomes Form

Goals for Period: 1.
2.
3.
Frequency of Expenses
BUDGET CATEGORIES Weekly Monthly Yearly Monthly
Budget
Salary and Other Income $ $ $  
Less Giving $ $ $  
Less Taxes $ $ $  
Less Savings $ $ $  
Less Capital Fund $ $ $  
TOTAL MONTHLY BUDGET AMOUNT (available to spend)  

Expenses Form

TOTAL MONTHLY BUDGET AMOUNT  
REMAINING AVAILABLE TO SPEND  
Frequency of Expenses
BUDGET CATEGORIES Weekly Monthly Yearly Monthly
Budget
Housing
Costs
Rent or Mortgage $ $ $  
Insurance $ $ $  
Repairs & Maintenance $ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
Groceries $ $ $  
Car
Expenses
Loan Repayment $ $ $  
Gasoline $ $ $  
Maintenance $ $ $  
Insurance $ $ $  
Entertainment
&
Recreation
Dining Out $ $ $  
Movies & Shows $ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
Gifts Christmas $ $ $  
Birthday $ $ $  
Anniversary $ $ $  
Other
Expenses
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
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$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
$ $ $  
BUDGET CATEGORIES Weekly Monthly Yearly Monthly
Budget
Frequency of Expenses
TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES  
REMAINING AVAILABLE TO SPEND  
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