How to Save (or Budget) For Any Household Expense

How to Save (or Budget) For Any Household Expense

You know to cut back on “unnecessary expenses,” but here are the tips that you may have missed.

How much money do you anticipate spending in 2024? Some people already know the answer to this question—especially those of us who track our expenses and use apps or spreadsheets to monitor monthly spending habits and trends—but most of us are less prepared than we could be to handle the expected and unexpected expenses of the upcoming year.

Personal finance expert Andrea Woroch, who spends much of her time helping busy families create household budgets, has some tips for how you can quickly and easily build a budget for 2024.

Woroch agrees that creating an annual household budget is an essential part of financial planning—even if your year turns out very differently than you planned. By writing down where you think your money will go, you’ll be better prepared to make adjustments when you need to. You’ll also understand what overspending looks like for your household, and when you might need to consider earning extra income to cover an anticipated or unanticipated expense.

"You can’t change what you can’t see," Woroch says, "so taking this first step is the most crucial."

Here’s how to get started.

Review your spending habits 

Woroch suggests starting your 2024 budget by reviewing your expenses in 2023. From there, you can start asking yourself which of those expenses are likely to carry over into the next year, and which expenses might need to be adjusted.

 "List out each of your current expenses," Woroch explains. "This should include all of your needs and wants."

If you’re having trouble getting started, there are plenty of online tools that can help you. Many banking and credit card apps automatically track purchases by retailer and/or spending category, making it easy to see how much money went towards groceries and how much went towards If you use budgeting software like YNAB, this process will be even easier.

From there, you can get a sense of your monthly spending habits—as well as seasonal spending patterns that could be broken down into monthly savings goals.

"Looking over your annual spend from 2023 will give you a better idea of all your expenses," says Woroch, "but remember that some expenses are charged on an annual or quarterly basis so you may want to break these down into smaller monthly installments to better plan for them. Don’t forget to add a little extra each month to cover seasonal costs such as gardening in the springtime or replacing holiday decor in the fall."

Depending on your living situation, you may also want to add a little extra money each month to cover anticipated 2024 expenses like a new HVAC system, a sewer upgrade or a kitchen renovation. If you’re still renting, you might want to set aside a little cash for a future down payment. You may decide that this is the year to upgrade your dishwasher, invest in a wood-burning stove or install solar panels on your south-facing roof.

Your household budget is up to you—so make sure it suits the needs of your household.

Compare your spending to your income

Once you have a rough estimate of how much money you might spend in 2024, go ahead and compare it to your anticipated income. If the numbers don’t match, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of time to adjust your budget—and plenty of ways to earn more money.

"Once you have your income and expenses laid out, it’s time to start hacking," Woroch explains. "You can make adjustments now to ensure you’re not overspending, and plan ahead to meet your financial goals."

Some people may choose to cut back on unnecessary expenses, canceling subscription services and eating more meals at home. Other people may choose to take on side hustles, start freelance businesses or begin applying for better-paying jobs. You’re probably familiar with most of these kinds of tips, which is why Woroch offered us a list of money-saving tricks that many people overlook:

  • Increase your insurance deductible: "Increasing your insurance deductibles are a quick way to reduce monthly premiums by up to 20 percent. Of course, you want to have the amount of your deductible saved in case of an emergency, but you can achieve this by putting away the amount you save each month after you increase your deductible until you’ve met that goal. Once you’ve stashed away enough to cover the deductible, you can enjoy the savings in other ways!"
  • Transfer your credit card balance: "If you are working to pay down debt, use a balance transfer card to reach your goal faster while freeing up money in your budget. Transferring your balance to a card that offers an introductory zero-interest rate on balance transfers ensures each payment goes further in reducing your debt and nothing is wasted on interest charges. Compare balance transfer credit cards at sites like to find one that fits your needs and credit rating."
  • Negotiate your credit card interest rate: "According to a study from WalletHub, 77 percent of credit card members were successful in getting their interest rate reduced when they asked. Asking for a lower rate can help you keep interest charges from eating away at your monthly budget."
  • Use savings apps: "Download the free cash-back app to earn points for uploading pictures of all your receipts to earn rewards for the things you have to buy as this can offset future purchases. The points are good towards free gift cards to stores like Target, Amazon, Walmart and more."

Plan for emergencies

There’s one last expense you need to consider as you prepare your 2024 household budget—and it’s the one you can’t predict in advance.

"Setting aside money for unexpected expenses helps you protect your finances," says Woroch, "and can help you stick to your budget throughout the year."

Some people put aside a little extra money every month for home repairs. Other people begin saving for their next car, couch, laptop or bedroom set immediately after they purchase their current ones. If you don’t have the capacity to save extra money every month for every potential expense—and let’s be honest, most of us don’t—you should still set aside as much as you can in a dedicated emergency fund.

"Aim to have three to six months of living expenses set aside in a separate savings account," Woroch advises, "and use this account only for emergencies."

While some people may want to invest the money in their emergency fund, it’s best to keep that cash as liquid and accessible as possible. Look for FDIC-insured savings accounts that offer high interest rates, and don’t be afraid to open an account with a new bank if it can get you better interest.

"Opening a high-yield online savings account can help you reach your savings goals faster," says Woroch. "By comparing rates and picking a bank that offers higher interest than its competitors, you can give your 2024 budget a nice little boost!" 

Illustration by Olga Shtonga

Related Reading:

How a Potential Recession Should Affect Your Housing Decisions