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Find Your Spending Number

Is Budgeting Too Much of a Hassle? Find Your Spending Number

Create your budget based on how much you CAN spend each month

Budgeting can be challenging for a variety of reasons. For starters, it necessitates the study of math, which many people despise. It also necessitates time, which many people do not believe they have enough of. Finally, it takes discipline to review your budget each month and keep track of your spending. If you're having problems meeting any of these criteria, it's time to figure out how much you're spending.

Using a spending figure to guide your budgeting process — the total amount you can spend each month — isn't all that different from traditional budgeting. Instead than focusing on the categories in which you spend your money, it simply analyses the total amount you spend each month. You can simplify your budget and spend less time worrying about whether you're blowing your entertainment budget by using your spending number.

“A budget is one of the most effective tools you can use to track your spending, but traditional budgeting is not going to work for everyone,” said Kirstin Edwards, Overdraft Administrator at BANK. “It’s important to find a method that works best for you. If traditional budgeting hasn’t worked in the past, a more simplified approach like setting a spending number could be worth a try.”

Determine Your Spending Number in 3 Steps

Calculating your spending number is straightforward and similar to creating a budget. The difference is that you're looking for a single number to lead you through your monthly expenses rather than focusing on everything you're spending your money on. Follow these three procedures to get at that figure.

  1. Calculate your after-tax monthly income.
  2. Add up all of your typical monthly outgoings. This should contain any debts, subscriptions, rent or mortgage payments, and other bills, as well as a specific amount to save.
  3. To calculate your monthly spending, subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income.

The amount of money you have left over to spend on food, entertainment, and other things is your spending number. While this strategy does not eliminate the need to keep track of all of your costs, there are tools you can use to ensure you don't go over budget, such as:

  • Mobile budgeting applications – To keep track of your costs, download an app that you can use on your phone.
  • Credit cards – Put the rest of your monthly spending on a separate credit card. Regularly reviewing your credit card account will ensure that you do not over your spending limit, and you will be able to pay off the balance in full each month.

More Information

To learn more ways you can keep track of your finances, contact Kirstin Edwards at 319.868.7525 or email Kirstin here. Learn more about our mobile banking app, which helps you track your spending, at

These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association.