Budget Worksheet for Discretionary Expenses
Use this worksheet to determine how much you spend on fun
In this budget worksheet, we'll take a look at how much money you spend on discretionary expenses. If you think the word "discretionary" has an ominous ring to it, you're probably not alone. It translates to, "I want that!" as opposed to, "I need this." These expenses are non-essential, unlike those for things like housing and insurance. It's money you can spend on dining out or other niceties because it's left over after you pay your essential bills. And that's the crux of a discretionary spending budget—it's only as big as the income you have available to fund it.
How to Use This Worksheet
You can use this worksheet by itself to get an idea of how much you spend on discretionary expenses. You can also use it along with other budgeting worksheets to create a complete budget.
Cutting Back on Discretionary Spending
Discretionary expenses are typically those that you could live without if push came to shove, so this worksheet consists of bills that are easy to cut out. Of course, that can be a matter of personal opinion. Some people find it hard to imagine that some of these items, like cable television and home internet, are “discretionary.” But if you think about it, they're not essential to our survival, no matter how much we might love our TV shows or Facebook games.
Most budget leaks occur within the discretionary category. Perhaps you never really thought about how much your gym membership was costing you or how much you were spending at restaurants. If you're trying to save money or figure out why all your money is gone at the end of every month, look at your discretionary expenses. These are the first things that should go if you need to cut back on your spending.
Examples of Discretionary Expenses
Here's a list of some common discretionary line items. Enter what you think you're spending on them in the middle column, then go through your last few months of bank and credit card statements and enter how much you actually spend on them each month. If you typically use cash, you'll have to dedicate a month or two to save your receipts first.
|DISCRETIONARY EXPENSE||MONTHLY ESTIMATE||ACTUAL|
|Cable or Satellite TV|
|Dining Out - Restaurants|
|Fast Food/Casual Eateries|
|Gym / Fitness Club|
|Subscriptions (magazine, Netflix, etc.)|
|Professional / Club dues|
|Hobbies and Sports|
|Lessons (Music, Art, etc.)|
|Holidays and Gifts|
If this discretionary spending worksheet is the only budget you're using, you should now have a pretty good idea of where you're spending your "extra" money. Use this list to generate ideas about where to make cuts in your budget if necessary.
Try using this along with the worksheet for income and necessary expenses so you can create a complete budget.
The Next Step for a Complete Budget
If you've used the income and necessary expenses worksheet, you can now add your fixed and discretionary totals.
|Total Expenses (Necessary + Discretionary)|
If you spend more than you earn, you'll need to make cuts to your budget immediately. You're at risk of going into debt or deepening your debt. If you earn more than you spend, congratulations.