Since I wrote about ways to find your money drains earlier in the week, I wanted to share a budgeting spreadsheet with you that we personally use.
Since I'm a lover of excel and google drive, you can open the FREE Budgeting Spreadsheet and download in either of those programs. I personally prefer google docs because I can access the document from anywhere. With the Budgeting spreadsheet, my husband and I can monitor and edit together as necessary too.
I know there are many free budget spreadsheets available but I wanted to personalize mine in order to help us achieve our financial goals. As you will see in the very top, I have two line items where you add your Monthly Income. I deliberately have these separate in case you and a spouse are working but want to eventually become a one-income family. More on that in a minute.
How to Budget
The bulk of this spreadsheet are your expenses and getting a good picture of what you are paying out each month. I'll explain as follows:
List the name of your bill. I keep mine as generic names rather than saying “XYZ Bank.” The names listed are purely for example and that's why a spreadsheet you can download yourself is much nicer than a PDF or printable since you can customize it for your family.
I list a category. This isn't really necessary but it's interesting to get a picture of what categories are hogging up your money much like the online program Mint does for you (which is free and you can signup here). I use this mainly for planning.
Enter the monthly total due to this bill name. You can see in the example, I have several items listed that most likely you use each week (Groceries, Gas, Allowance, etc). You want a monthly total here so you can understand how much you have to work with after all of your bills are paid. The site Mvelopes does something similar too (you can signup for a free online account here).
This is another reason a spreadsheet is nice to have for a budget. You can easily see where the “fat” is and make adjustments quickly all while the formulas do the math for you.
Kind of nice to know when things are due. This could be helpful to sort by if you get paid bi-weekly and want to make sure you have the funds in the bank to pay your bills on time.
Now this is one that I added 2 years ago when Paul lost his job unexpectedly. I wanted to use cash for some purchases but not go entirely cash-only. That's where I don't agree with Dave Ramsey's model. :) I'm not going to walk into a gas station and pay for my gas. That actually takes me time. Since I believe time = money, it's costing me by doing so. We use our debit card for these types of purchases so in my world, it's just like cash.
For those categories that I really want to stick to the budget though, cash is perfect! For example, our boys are motivated by cash so they like to have that versus and IOU (although I have done that before). Also, with entertaining and a bazillion sporting events to attend, we need cash. I use this column to help me total up how much cash I need to withdrawal from the bank each month so I can make one trip.
Just enter anything you may want to remember about this bill. Perhaps you are paying off a credit card and you want to add your balance here as motivation. Use it as you see fit (or you can delete it if you want too – up to you!).
Cash Flow Budget
After you enter your bills and totals, you will see the Monthly Expenses total update to reflect all of the totals listed in the Monthly Due column. That's the beauty of excel since this formula does all the work for you :) This gives you an accurate picture of how much you are paying each month so it's really important to list every single expense you can think of during this process.
The Net Difference column right beside will show you what the difference is between what you are making (Total Monthly Income) versus what you are spending (Monthly Expenses). If you are negative, it's time to look at the expenses and see what can be cut. There is no easy way to say that. Something has to get cut now in order to live within your means. You can find ways to earn additional income but I would work with what you have now and figure out how to spend less.
OK, now going back to my initial statement about your Monthly Income and the two line items. When we were trying to figure out if we could be a one income family many years ago, I would use this same spreadsheet so we had a good picture of what we were spending. I would then delete one of the monthly income entries so we could see how things looked with just ONE income.
Our goal was to have me stay home at the time and we needed to make it work. I then started to rework the spreadsheet with a different viewpoint and deleted “my” Monthly Income line item. I needed to see if one income could cover all of our expenses. Since we were paying off our debt at the time, I also wanted to ensure we had money “left over” so that we could apply additional payments to our debt payoff goal.
Cash Budget Example
Perhaps you want to make a copy of the tab in the spreadsheet to do this for your own circumstances so you aren't making edits to your actual budget. But maybe not? If you can cut cable when you are a one income family then what's stopping you from cutting cable today? The same goes for lowering your Christmas budget, finding a new cell phone provider or reducing your grocery bill? They all add up! Do those things BEFORE you make the official change to live on one income and you will have that much more saved. I sure wish we would have done that!
I hope you find this spreadsheet as useful as we have in managing our finances. Whatever your financial goals are this year, and beyond, it is smart to have it written down and plan for the future. I plan to add more resources like this to the lineup of what we share here. My goal is to provide tools and information to help you live a lifestyle of saving!
I should add the disclaimer that I am NOT a financial planner and don't play on one the internet either. However, we HAVE paid off a LOT of debt (nearly $200k when we were in the thick of debt payoff mode) and have paid cash for a few cars. All of that to say that even though I'm not a professional, I know how to manage our family finances well enough to get something positive done and YOU CAN TOO! :)
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