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Household Budgets for Challenging Times
by Trudi

Adults face many challenges.  Recent economic conditions have made it even more important to understand basic math concepts. Understanding how to do a household budget is simple but can have a huge impact on your life.

Setting up a household budget is not as complicated as many people think. It involves some simple but important steps:

1. Determine your family’s monthly earnings from all income sources.
2. Know all of your family’s monthly expenses and bills. (Make a list.)
3. Allocate a buffer of 5 - 10% for any emergencies.
4. Track what your family spends (monthly).
5. Allocate a portion of your family’s earnings (5-10%) into a savings account.
6. Review and adjust from time to time to make sure the household expenses are within your family’s budget.

There are many ways to allocate a budget. The following percentages are based on a family’s net income (100%). These percentages are to give you an idea from which you can then work out your own family’s household budget. Every family is different, so every family’s household budget will be different too.

Charity: 10-15%

Savings:  5-10%

Housing (including rent or mortgage):  25-35%

Utilities:  5-10%

Food:  5-15%

Transportation:  10-15%

Clothing:  2-7%

Medical:  5-10%

Personal:  5-10%

Recreation/entertainment:  5-10%

Debts (not including mortgage):  5-10%

(These suggested percentages come from

For some more interesting reading on this topic, you can go to the following website:

Families and the Almighty Dollar

Here you will find articles with a Canadian perspective. Topics include: “Talking about Money”, “What does money mean to you?”, “The Cost of Raising a Child”, “Making Ends Meet”, and “Trends in Canadian Family Finances”.


(September 27, 2009)


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