There are many ways to make and track your budget, but my favorite is an Excel budget template. I prefer to do my budgeting, and most other things, digitally. Not only does it save paper, but I don’t have to carry it around with me and keep track of it. In this post I will share with you how I have been budgeting, as well as a free excel budget template for you to make your own.
My personal budgeting methods have changed.
A couple of months ago I shared my first post about budgeting, which included a monthly budget worksheet. I had just started into the world of budgeting and becoming more responsible with how I handle my money, and then bam: my main source of income changed it’s pay schedule. For the first time in almost 13 years, I had to switch gears and start looking at that income coming in every 2 weeks year-round.
That may not seem like a big deal, and to some it may seem like a better deal, but I dislike change. It took me a while to wrap my head around it, especially since I had just set up my new budgeting system and vowed to be more responsible with my money. But, change is actually a good thing, and so I sucked it up and figured out how to adapt.
Below I will share the budget templates I have for you, and then some tips and notes on using them.
Free Excel Monthly Budget Template
The first budget template I created was a monthly budget. If budgeting your income on a month-to-month basis works best for you, you’ll want to use this one.
The second budget template I created is very similar, but it is setup to be a “per paycheck” budget. If budgeting your income per pay check or pay period works better for you, you’ll want to use this one.
What to do if digital budgeting just isn’t for you?
If you are more of a paper and pen person, this digital excel budget template may not be the perfect fit for you. If that’s the case, I have heard really good things about this Clever Fox Budget Planner.
Using the budget template in Google Sheets or Excel
You’ll notice the budget templates are set up in Google Sheets, not an actual Excel file specifically. I prefer to work in Google Sheets for worksheets I will be constantly updating. Not only does this save file space on my Macbook, but it saves instantly for me, and can be accessed from anywhere as long as I am logged into my Google account.
To use the Google sheet budget template, simply open the link and follow the directions at the top to make your own editable copy.
If you prefer to use an actual Excel file saved to your computer, you can do that easily by following these steps:
- Within the Google Sheet, go to File.
- Hover over Download As.
- Click Microsoft Excel.
- An Excel file will download to your computer, which you can open and edit from there.
A few notes and tips on using this excel budget template:
Enter all of your projected numbers ahead of time.
Budget for everything, including your grocery, gas, eating out, other entertainment, etc. Set a limit you can spend for that month or pay period, depending on how you budget, and set that as your projected amount. For my projected numbers, I even think ahead to birthdays that I will need to buy gifts for.
Don’t slack, keep track.
(I gave myself a little laugh with that unplanned rhyme.) Use the running tally column to easily add up totals for things like groceries and gas. Every single time you make a purchase, fill it in on your sheet that same day. For example, when I get groceries (normally from Shipt), I immediately add the total to my grocery “Actual” column, and it gives me the Difference so I know what I have left in my budget for that given period.
Think ahead to upcoming expenses.
If I know the kids gymnastic classes will be starting a new session in August, I make note of the date I need to pay for it by, and then figure out the best time to pay it out of my budget. The earlier I can put it in my plans, the better. I find the best week/tab on my budget and add it as a project expense so I know it’s coming out of that specific period’s budget.
Keep track of upcoming additional expenses with your spouse.
I wrote another post about how we started doing this, and so nothing is ever a surprise. You can read about how we keep each other up-to-date on upcoming expenses here.
Assign all of your money a purpose.
Out of your projected income and expenses, plan to have a zero balance. So for example, if you have $50 left after you account for your grocery, gas, eating out, medical bills, whatever else, assign that $50 to savings. And then, actually put it in savings. Otherwise, it becomes extra you can just spend (aka waste) on whatever.
Balance it out at the end.
If at the end of the month you ended up with some additional income, and your projected difference ends up being that you have $25 left over even after you put that 50, for example, in savings, assign that $25 a “job” before you move on. Maybe that $25 goes into savings as well. Maybe it gets paid as an extra payment towards a credit card debt. Whatever it is, make a plan ahead of time for what any additional positive balance will go towards.
I think you will find, as I have, that working with a budget becomes fun. It makes you feel more in control of your life, even if your budget is small and tight. The best way to get out of that situation is to take control, face the reality of what it is, and work towards change. Using an excel budget template can help you get there, and I am right there with you!
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Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.