The Basics of Creating an Event Budget

It’s time to go back to the basics. It’s never too late to learn a little something about event budgeting, especially when it comes to your wallet and your attendees’ wallets.

Getting Started

Arguably the most challenging part, getting started. Where do you start? We recommend determining which tool is best for you to create your event budget on.

  • Smartsheet offers free event budget templates, just provide your email and other basic personal information
  • Use your own Excel spreadsheet (Excel offers a variety of free budget spreadsheets to get you started)
  • Mint by Intuit offers an easy way to track your money and add goals for spending
  • Trying to save some money? Try downloading Albert. Albert is a great budgeting app that keeps track of all your accounts and provides recommendations for goal-setting and cutting costs.

Refining your Budget by Setting Goals

Before you immediately dive into the budgeting process, take a step back and think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with this event and what do you need to achieve it? Do a little market research to find out what has and hasn’t been working for recent events similar to the one you’re planning. Your event experience, technology and promotion costs are all the things you need to factor in. Think about your return on investment and if you’ll be meeting those goals with the strategy you have at the moment. Lastly, consider leaving a little spending room for an emergency fund. You never know the day something won’t go as planned and the last thing you want is having change a major part of your event because you didn’t budget for an emergency fund.

Starting the Budgeting Process

Here we go, this is it. Every event budget template may be a bit different, but there are a few items that must be consistent across all your event budgets.

  • Item
  • Description
  • Quantity Needed
  • Estimated cost
  • Actual cost

Compile a list of every aspect of your event, down to the smallest detail. You don’t want to forget any part of your event, even if it’s only a few dollars. The more accurate your details are, the more accurate your estimated costs will be. Make sure you are realistic with yourself and don’t try to cut corners during this step. If there is something you are debating whether or not to include in your event budget, include it for now and take it away later.

Research Event Budget Costs

This is a very important step. It can mean the difference for being able to afford those specially branded event agendas you’ve been designing since last year’s event. Now that you know everything you need for your event down to the smallest detail, it’s time to figure out how much it’s going to cost you. There are a few different ways to find how much everything will potentially cost you:

  • Reach out to vendors for specific pricing
  • Look into past events you or people you know have had
  • Compile indirect and direct costs
  • Google it or look it up on Amazon. As easy as this may seem, looking up the price of items online will help you get an idea of how much something will cost you

The costs you research will go under your estimated costs. Estimating costs is an element of business that professionals often struggle with, so don’t beat yourself up if it takes some practice to improve your accuracy.

Don’t Make these Common Event Budgeting Mistakes

We don’t want to jinx you with these mistakes, but we feel that it is important to make sure you are aware of them. Knowing these mistakes is one of the easiest ways to help you avoid them:

  • Not researching all your venue options.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend. This may go against what you’ve always been taught, but you have to be willing to spend money to create that amazing event you’ve been dreaming of.
  • Don’t forget to constantly check and update your budget. All too often you can become distracted in the planning process, forgetting to keep receipts and track your spending.
  • Don’t forget about the tax.
  • Do not wait until the last minute.

If you use this starter guide for event budgeting, you’ll likely become so good at budgeting that you may even experience a leftover events budget. If this is the case, consider these nine strategic ways to spend a leftover event budget before you get carried away on your next spending spree.

Ready to put your event budgeting skills to good use? Start creating your next event on