The purpose of the simple budget spreadsheet is to help you realize what you are spending money on and possible ways to increase your savings. For best results, be truthful with your spending and meticulous when updating the budget.
How the Budget Spreadsheet Works
Once you start putting amounts in the spreadsheet, you will see the balance from “Week 1” automatically carry over to “Week 2” and so on. Because some months have a 5th week, you will notice a “Week 5” every month. If that 5th week is not used, the balance from “Week 4” will still carry over to the next month. The balance from December will carry over to January of the next year on the next sheet.
You can start keeping track of your spending whenever you like. I have created the spreadsheet to begin in January 2017. If you are anxious to get started now, do so! You can always rename the sheets at the bottom accordingly.
- When starting out, enter your current account balance on left side beside “Start”. All additional income goes on the left two columns, with the dollar amount going on the left (in the green) and the description on the right.
- Whatever expenses you have goes on the right two columns. Again, the dollar amount on the left side (in the red) and the description on the right.
Try to make it a rule of thumb to round your account down a little and your expenses up. This will ensure you always enough money to cover those expenses.
You do not have to round off excessively. If you have $504.82 in your account put an even $500 as your current balance. If you know you spent $36.27 at the grocery store, round that up to $40 dollars even.
Making the Spreadsheet a Budget
If you would like to use the spreadsheet as a true budget, try to estimate your monthly bills based on what you’ve spent in the past and fill out the spreadsheet for one full year. This will help give you a specific amount of how much your bills are every month.
For instance, electric bills normally fluctuate, however, if you know the most you pay is $150 in the summer months, June, July and August, go ahead and put that $150 down every month. Try to do the same for all fluctuating bills – put down the highest or worst case scenario.
Input all utilities, even groceries and gas if you can. Put in rent/mortgage, car payments, school loans, credit cards etc. Do you pay car insurance only once every 6 months? Include that in the two months you make those payments.
If you have Netflix account, Apple Music or Spotify make sure to put those subscriptions in – even that Amazon Prime subscription that only gets charged once a year. Do you pay for an online game subscription only once every 6 months? Include that in the two months you make those payments. Although some of these items count as entertainment, you know exactly how much they are so go ahead and include them. Do not include extras like lunches, going to the bar or the movies or eating out just yet.
Fill in your income as well. If you bring home $750 a week or $1500 every two weeks – go ahead and fill that out. You’ll end up with a pretty consistent monthly budget.
Let’s assume you are bringing home $3000 a month, and your monthly expenses come up to $2100. It will pretty evident you have a $900 surplus – even on your worst case scenario months. At this point, you might want to consider your savings.
Use the budget if you are considering financing a purchase as well. Enter the monthly payments in for a few months out and see how it affects your bottom line.
How to Start Saving
Are you saving any money every month? Did you put that savings down just like you did your other bills? If you have a retirement account, and the money comes out before you get your take home pay – great! If not, it’s a good idea for you to start thinking of your savings as a bill and input a dollar amount now.
For a conservative approach, start with putting up $100. For something a little more aggressive try putting up half of whatever your surplus is. Half might seem like a lot, but if you account for everything you need; gas, food, all your bills, your monthly subscriptions – saving half does not affect you paying bills. If you have the ability to setup automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account definitely, do that.
Tracking Your Spending Habits
After you have dedicated something to savings, whatever you have left is the money you can use for entertainment. As you go through the weeks, now you can start inputting those other expenditures. Be specific when you enter what you spend your money on. For instance, you will want enter “lunch” or “eating out” or “alcohol” if that is where the money went.
If you find yourself “running out of money” you might TRY cutting one of the expendable categories out or at least cutting back. The purpose is to show you where your money is going.
You can also update those fluctuating bills to actual amounts. Doing this might also give you a bit more play money OR you can transfer whatever you don’t spend to savings! You might want to consider saving the extra money if you couldn’t put much away to begin with or if you are saving for a purpose. You will be surprised how quickly this will add up!
Remember that 5th week? If you have a weekly bill, on the 5 week months – you will be inputting something in there. Also, remember when you get paid on those 5th weeks. Those extra check months whether they come, 2 times a year for bi-weekly pay or 4 times a year for weekly pay, are great opportunities to boost your savings account.
The Savings Sheet!
This is a separate sheet to avoid having ideas about spending this money, especially if you are saving up for something – like the down payment and closing costs for a house or an emergency! Track whatever money you put in your savings account on this sheet. Try to make sure money goes into this account and on this sheet, before you decide to spend money on clothes or excessive nights out on the town.
Making the Money Work for You
You can make this budget into a zero sum budget easily by putting the extra money not spent toward something. This extra money can go towards paying off a credit cards, cars or mortgage. Putting the extra money towards debt allow the zero sum budget to work in conjunction with the snowball or avalanche debt management strategy.
If you have no debt or you believe it’s controllable, at the very least you can put the the money in a savings account. If you want to do something else with extra money there are tons of investment opportunities for you to choose from. Are you fully funding an IRA or a 401k? If you are, then maybe you are ready to move into other investment opportunities.
Household Expense Budget
The Household Expense Budget spreadsheet works a little differently than the Simple Budget. The expense budget gives a total one month picture of spending versus showing a weekly picture. This budget will also provide graphs to show you percentages of where your money is going. Be careful when using this budget as it could give you a false sense of security if you do not have a cushion in your account.
For example, if you get paid $1500 every two weeks you make a total of $3000 a month. The household expense sheet will show that. What it does not show is if you have to pay $1200 in rent or mortgage on the 1st and car payment of $400 on the 5th – your account goes negative for a week or two until you get your get second check. If you need a more granular view of you budget, use the simple spreadsheet.
This budget provides an excellent view into your monthly expenses, income and what your totals are yearly. When you use the budget, rename the categories and the items under them as appropriate. Make sure to pick up helpful tips from the “Instructions” tab. Download the Household Expense Budget here.