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<July 2015>

Current Location: Skip Navigation LinksHome | Get Set for Life | Living Skills & Resources | Budget


(Information obtained from Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA), Handbook for Skill Development, Massachusetts Department of Social Services – click here to visit website)

Cutting costs

Following are some of the items that should be included in the budget of someone who is living independently. Each category is very important. There are many items within each topic in addition to those listed in parentheses. You can probably think of many more. A personal budget will help you decide how much money should be spent in each category in advance so that you don't end up with empty pockets before the end of the month.

Cash on hand
  • Rent/Housing
  • Utilities (gas, electricity, telephone, water)
  • Food (both groceries and restaurant meals)
  • Home Care (furniture, cleaning supplies, repairs)
  • Personal Care (shampoo, laundry, clothing)
  • Medical Care (medicine, doctor’s visits, dental care, vitamins)
  • Insurance (medical, car, life)
  • Transportation (bus fare, car payments, gasoline, oil, repairs)
  • Recreation
  • Taxes
  • Savings
  • Miscellaneous (health club expense, cable, cell phone)

Your personal budget worksheet might look similar to the following: Budget Worksheet

Managing Your Personal Budget

Most people have difficulty figuring out their budget. It usually takes several tries before you can establish a usable budget. Below is a list of budget items with suggested percentages:

Budget pie chart
  • Rent & Utilities 40%
  • Food 20%
  • Clothing & Personal Care 10%
  • Recreation/Entertainment 10%
  • Transportation 7%
  • Medical/Dental 7%
  • Savings 5%
  • Household Maintenance?
  • Insurance?

The sample budget percentages above adhere to a method of budgeting that many banks recommend. This does not mean, however, that this method is perfect for you. You can move money from one budget item to another, depending on your personal needs, but the total must always equal to the amount of your take home pay. You should not overlook setting aside some of your monthly in a savings account in case of an emergency.

Sticking to your budget might be difficult for many of you, but it is necessary for financial survival. Although there might be a little room to be flexible on some budgetary items, you will basically have to keep within your budget's limits in order to not end up with empty pockets before the end of the month. Throughout your life, you will have to be prepared to deal with many situations which might tempt you to ignore your budget. Giving in to these temptations will only lead you into a financial crisis. Develop strategies with your social worker, parents, or trusted adults that would help you to stick with your personal budget.

It is difficult to cover all expenses with a minimum wage. Imagine how your budget and lifestyle would change if you could earn more money. Education can be the key to greater financial success and a better standard of living.