If you have a family or are a member of one, one of the most important things you can do is to come up with a household expenditure budget.

It allows you to take control of your financial life and making ongoing adjustments can increase your family’s prosperity and improve your lifestyle in the process.

That process has to be broken down, however. A household expenditure budget is made up of parts and pieces, and you need to be clear about each separate piece and how the different pieces relate to one another.

Let’s start by setting up a budget worksheet. There are plenty of spreadsheet programs designed to do this, and many of them are free. If you’re not a spreadsheet type, though, you can do this by making a series of lists on a simple legal pad.

Begin by listing your income. It’s important to list all the reliable sources, and don’t include occasional money you get from gigs or hobbies. You want your list to be as reliable as possible, and if your self employed you can average your monthly income and use that as your number here.

Then add up your expenses. Start with the fixed ones—mortgage payments or rent, property taxes, and so on. Then list the variable ones, such as utilities, and write in the highest possible number you might expect to pay in a given month.

This combination will allow you to calculate your net income by subtracting expenses from income. This will give you an idea of where you stand financially on a month-to-month basis, and it will allow you to adjust accordingly.

There are many ways you can do this. For instance, you may decide that you’re spending too much money on entertainment or dining out, and seeing these numbers in black and white will give you a better idea of how much to lower them.

Your household expenditure budget will also allow you to view your spending and income trends. This makes it possible to see potential problems in advance, or it may allow you to capitalize on any extra money the household expenditure budget reveals. Either way, it’s a win-win situation, and it’s not that hard to do. So get to it right away, and start to reap the benefits you’ll get if you put in the time and effort!