How to Create a Budget | The Tools

How to Create a Budget | The Tools

If you’ve never had a budget before, creating one from scratch can be intimidating.

But having a written budget (and sticking to it!) really is necessary for achieving your financial goals.  I couldn’t imagine how we would’ve paid off over $12,000 in credit card debt without it.

Back in the dark ages before every child was born with an iPad in their hands, I used to do my budget on a simple spreadsheet that I Xeroxed for each month.  And after 15 years of attempting to navigate complicated software in order to “simplify” my finances, I’ve gone back to my roots- the simple excel file.

Except with one advancement.  I don’t put pen to paper anymore.  Because paper is just so not cool.  Or maybe it’s just because I don’t like my messy handwriting.  Either way.

So, I created this editable spreadsheet to document all our spending and keep us on budget and focused on our goals.

And I thought I would share it with you.  Because I’m not a hoarder.


Download my free budget template here

The idea is very simple.  Enter your sources of income/billers/spending categories in the first column.  Put your budgeted amounts in the second.  And when the bill has been paid, you fill in the third and fourth columns.

And just so you don’t have to do any complicated math, like adding, I’ve added formulas to do the totalling for you.  (Just be sure if you add or delete rows that the formulas still include all the appropriate cells.)

The goal would be to have the Remaining Funds equal ZERO. 

That means you are in control of your money and telling it where to go, instead of your money controlling you.

And that’s a pretty good feeling.

Come back next week when I talk about how to fill in all those scary blank spaces….

What tools do you use to keep track of your budget?

This post is linked up to Works for Me Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

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12 Responses to How to Create a Budget | The Tools

  1. Shirley says:

    Jen, you are amazing! I was just whining about not having a budget done this year.

  2. Shirley says:

    Maybe I’m doing it wrong but I can only open the doc in Read Only format.

  3. Holly says:

    I like you budget template, it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Shirley says:

    It works! I just shouldn’t be aloud to use computers. I kept opening it in html.

  5. Oh, the budget. I wish I had a formula. Mostly, I just jump around to posts like this and try something new every month. I read Dave Ramsey. My dad is a financial planner. You would think I had this covered. Not so. My dad has a budget sheet that I use. I love filling out the projected plan, but keeping track of actual expenses… that works for about 4 days each month. Ugh. I just downloaded 4 Money apps that I’m sure I’ll never use. Ugh again.

    Oh well, I’ll keep trying!

    • Jen says:

      Have you thought about trying a cash envelope system for variable expenses? Then you don’t have to track your spending so much. I hit up the ATM every other week (payday), fill our envelopes, and don’t really worry about it. Once the money is gone, you stop spending (or steal money from another envelope). I miss not knowing where every penny is going (I’m weird that I love tracking it) but it really has simplified my budgeting.

  6. Martha33 says:

    I think your sample budget template is the solution for having a great tool in preserving money, Thanks a lot. I will try this kind in order to save and spend money in a valuable matters.

  7. gin says:

    I have been spending so much time on your blog following all your budgeting advice. Thank you so much for this…it’s the first time “budgeting” has actually made sense to me!

    • Jen says:

      I’m so glad you’ve been able to glean some information out of these posts. If you’re looking for more detail, check out Tsh Oxenrider’s Organized Simplicity. I read it recently and it was a huge help in organizing my view of money/budgeting/spending.