Why a Needs List is Important and How to Set One Up


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I mentioned my needs list in my Home Management Binder Post. This is such an important part of my binder as I use it for budgeting purposes.

The needs list is a list of everything we need to buy for our household weekly, 2 times a month, monthly, and every 3 months along with prices.

Needs lists are an important part of budgeting as they allow you to figure out how much you might spend on important items throughout the month. They also allow you to figure out what you actually NEED to purchase as opposed to purchasing because it is something that you want.

Making the list is kind of a long process, and you will probably forget to put stuff on it when you first start. I redid mine 4 times the first few months I had it.

Start by making a list of everything in your house that is a need.

Ideas of needs

Toiletries: Shampoos and Conditioners, body wash, shave cream, lotion, other hair products(that you REALLY need), cotton swabs, cotton balls, face wash, razors, medications(over the counter and prescription), vitamins, creams, toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.

Kitchen supplies: Plastic wrap, baggies, foil, parchment paper, wax paper, paper towels, dish soap, sponges, etc.

Laundry Supplies: Soap, stain removers, bleach, softener, dryer sheets, etc.

Cleaning Supplies: Toilet cleaner, kitchen cleaners, duster, etc.

Kids: Any special items you need on a regular basis for the kids

Baby: Diapers, wipes, formula (if used), baby food (if used), diaper ointments, etc.

You could put animals on this list too, I personally have a separate budget for animal related expenses, so I don’t.


Divide your list by when you purchase items.

This part could potentially take a while, sometimes you just can’t remember how many times a month you purchase a certain type of medication or the last time you purchased toilet paper.

A good strategy for this is to keep your receipts and write down everything after about a week of purchase with dates, do this for a month. You can then get an idea of when you need to purchase these items again, and can divide each item into its respective category.
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Write down the cost of each item.

Also another great reason to save your receipts. Write down the cost of each item when you are writing down the dates purchased. Unless you are like me and can recite how much almost everything you purchase costs…


After you have everything sorted into your categories. Total each section.

Add the prices of each weekly, 2 times a month, monthly, and every 3 months sections.

 Now you know what you purchase, and how much you spend on these purchases.

 To figure out how much you spend monthly:

Multiply your weekly by 4.5, your 2 times a month by 2, then add these 2 totals to your monthly.


Weekly you spend 54.90 on needs. 54.90 x 4.5 =247.05/monthly

2 times per month you spend 25.49 on needs. 25.49 x 2 =50.98/monthly

Monthly you spend 47.89 on needs.

247.05 + 50.98 + 47.89 = 345.92

345.92 would be the total you spend on needs monthly.

I have made a blank copy of my needs list, feel free to download it through the link below.

Needs List Worksheets

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