Track your money with the Free Budget Spreadsheet

This Budget Spreadsheet is part of a financial planning series called How to Make a Budget. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

I’ve been thinking a lot about budget spreadsheets. I don’t stay awake at night dreaming of Excel cells and mathematical equations — because that’s weird — but back in my days of student debt I did lose sleep over accounting for my missing money. What a nightmare!

I turned things around when I started a simple budget to track my spending, income, and expenses. Knowing how much I earned and spent on a monthly and yearly basis helped me catch those needed Zzzzs and find my financial way. If you’re losing sleep over missing moolah or can’t account for your expenses, then getting on track with a budget may be the secret to a six-figure slumber. Ka-ching!

How to Make a Budget:
  1. Your Net Worth
  2. Net Worth Spreadsheet
  3. Financial Goals Worksheets
  4. Needs and Wants List
  5. Budget Spreadsheet
  6. Free Budget Software
  7. Track Extra Income
  8. Gift Giving Worksheet
  9. Holiday Expense Tracking
  10. Windfall Planner
  11. Debt Reduction
  12. Student Budget
  13. Medical Expenses
  14. Emergency Fund
  15. More to come!
  16. Subscribe to not miss it!

What is a budget? A budget is a financial plan for tracking the flow of money into and out of your life. A simple budget can expose where you’re leaking money (the outflows), plug those drips, and find ways to save more of the inflowing cash for the stuff that matters. A budget can also highlight the spending habits you’re not aware of and help you better plan for future spending. The hard part is getting started. After a bit of practice though budgeting becomes easy.

How to use the Budget Spreadsheet

The Budget Spreadsheet is pretty darn easy to use. I’ve kept things super simple by listing the biggest budgeting categories and showing you how it all adds up. Here’s what you can do:

  • Budget by month: List your monthly expenses, track your income, tally your monthly averages, and see how it all adds up. Helpful for those with variable incomes too.
  • Yearly budgeting: Get an annual snapshot of your success by entering all the monthly budget details. Yearly totals are listed below.
  • Make a personal budget: Single and loving it? No worries. This budget spreadsheet works for individuals too.
  • Household budget: Families can budget too. Just tally your spousal income and set your total household budget.
  • Budget worksheet: If you’re not fond of spreadsheets, then go ahead and print it out as a monthly budget worksheet. Stick in a binder and keep track of your moolah by writing it all down.
  • Budget calculator: Adding everything up can be a pain in the purse. Use the budget spreadsheet as a calculator to show you when you’re in the red. Just scroll to the bottom and see if your Total Difference is positive (black) or negative (red).
  • Customize like crazy: Go ahead and customize this Excel budget spreadsheet by adding your own categories.

free budget worksheets budget calculator
Download: Free Budget Spreadsheet

Step 1: Download!

Click to download your copy of the Budget Spreadsheet.

Step 2: Track your spending

Tracking every cent you earn and spend sounds like work, but it’s easy to do if you carry a notebook with you or save all your receipts. The idea is to track your cash, credit card, and debit card purchases to identify the costly culprits.

  • Get a notebook. Place a small notebook and pen in your purse. OR carry an iPhone, iPad, or iWhatever with you.
  • Write it down: Every time you spend money — write it down. Make a note of each and every purchase (grocery, coffee, shoes) and add the date. Ask for a receipt.
  • Add it up: Tally your expenses during the month and add them to the Budget Spreadsheet under the right category. See where your money is really going. Results may shock you.

Step 3: Get budgeting!

Grab your receipts, sort your bills, and check your bank accounts. It’s time to fill in the blanks and account for your cash in the budget worksheet. Here are the columns to consider:

  • Income: Enter your monthly salary, all bonuses, and investments to get a grip on your total income. Did you make enough? Do you need to earn more? Be sure to include your spouse’s income too.
  • Home Expenses: Doesn’t matter if you rent or own. Enter your housing costs, insurance, maintenance, and property taxes.
  • Transportation: Enter all your automobile costs, transit passes, fuel, and maintenance. If you’ve got a bike that needs a spare tire, enter it under Other.
  • Utilities: There is no mystery in this category. Go through your bills and find the REAL costs to surfing the internet, watching TV, and chatting on the phone. Enter your electricity and water bills too!
  • Medical: Not my favorite category, but we’ve all got something medical, right? Add up your prescriptions, dental bills, and health insurance.
  • Financial: Tally all your financial bits and pieces, including: bank fees, interest payments, debt repayment, and various savings accounts.
  • Enjoyment: Yay! Time for fun stuff! Keep track of all gifts, holiday expenses, pet costs, entertainment (don’t forget your liquor), restaurants, and hobbies.
  • Routine Expenses: Groceries, clothing, and all anti-wrinkle creams need to be listed here. Yeah, wrinkles happen. Grumble.
  • Family: Get the kids involved by showing them how the money is spent. List childcare expenses, allowances, activities, sports, books, toys, tuition, school supplies, and field trip costs. A financially savvy kid is likely to grow into a financially wise adult.

Phew! It seems like a lot, I know. But budgeting gets easier as time goes by. So get downloading, tracking, and take the time to see where your money goes each month. You may just find some lost loot.

Squawkback: Does minding a budget help you manage your money?

Your two cents:

  1. Money Illusions April 26th, 2010

    It really is easy to blow a budget without a budget plan or budget spreadsheet, and I think many people really overlook the importance of educating their children about money.

  2. Leisureguy April 27th, 2010

    You might find this free Excel budget workbook to be useful in creating a budget. It brings to light certain implicit expenses that might otherwise be overlooked—maintenance and replacement expenses, mainly.

  3. Guy G. April 28th, 2010

    Hey,
    Thanks for the tools. We have used similar spreadsheets when we teach tips on budgeting and I find that they’re all basically the same and will work well – IF people use them.
    You can’t use a budget spreadsheet once and simply leave it. It should be reviewed at minimum once a month, if not weekly.

    Great post,
    Guy

  4. John E April 29th, 2010

    We’ve been tracking our family expenses since 1996. I highly recommend the practice. The main benefit for us has been that once we figured out how much money we had and where it all went, we could be comfortable about spending it. For example, I never feel guilty about buying an expensive cup of coffee (or expensive organic veggies) – my budget covers me for a cup every day if that’s what I want, and I can enjoy that coffee (or the organic veggies) knowing that the cost of it isn’t “too expensive” or cutting into our vacation money, retirement savings or any of the other line items in our budget.

  5. Erica April 29th, 2010

    I just started making a budget, so thanks..this will help alot.

  6. Liz July 15th, 2010

    This spreadsheet is very similar to one I used a few years ago. I’ve used several others since, but I think I’m going back to this one; it really is the best. I personalized it more by adding in extra columns to reflect my bi-weekly pay dates. The other “tools” I’ve used mainly show what I’m spending & when/where I’m spending it (like, when a bill is due, I open my budget spreadsheet, enter the amounts being paid, click AutoSum, and I’m done with it.) Still, I’m finding that I don’t have quite the same “stick-with-it” attitude doing it that way as I do with this one.

    When I used this spreadsheet, I’d plug in all those non-changing items for the whole year (rent, transit expenses, cable, cell phone bill), and for other utilities, I averaged six months worth & added $10 to whatever the average was – since one bill is never the same unless you’re on some type of budget plan – With this guesstimate, I found that I generally had money back in my pocket which I applied to paying off a credit card here’n’there!

    I was diligent with using this spreadsheet & checked it on a weekly basis. I kept a small memo tablet in my purse & jotted down any- and everything “extra” so I could enter it during the weekly check-up. If there were changes (and there usually were), I knew where the changes were coming from & where I needed to reevaluate that purchase that I considered a “little something extra” (mainly the frozen coffees I splurged on a couple days a week since the deli in my office building sold them)..and then I invested in a small blender from a nearby thrift store ($3.00+change) & concocted my own recipe with the items already in my pantry! (try that for a few weeks & watch your budget have a surplus!)

    I’ve tried sharing my budget tips with younger family members, and they shake their heads at me ’cause they don’t get it (or maybe they just don’t get ME, go figure!) They think it’s just a little crazy or silly to do. (Even tho I must admit, when I was in my 20s-early 30s, I felt that way, too!)

  7. Katie August 9th, 2010

    I love budgets and making budgets. I’ve had one that I’ve stuck to this last year or so, but I’m looking to move out, so I’m glad I came across this–it will be a huge help in remembering all those “extra” expenses that I don’t have at the moment, but will soon.

    Being in my late 20′s, I’ve tried to tell my friends for years that the only way they will save money (and pay off student loans!) is by budgeting. I’m going to share this article in hopes that some of them will take the plunge! :)

  8. Robin Poulin September 10th, 2010

    Tracking your expenses is a great way to get started on your budgeting. It helps you understand your spending patterns and where your money is going. It can be amazing how quick it all disappears before you know it.
    When you’ve tracked your spending for a month or two, you can see your spending patterns and plan better for your future when you know what to expect. It’s then far easier to plan ahead for those expenses rather than putting out fires of trying to gather the money together when those expenses comes up. Being prepared takes the stress and worry out of budgeting and finances. My husband and I have been using a calendaring program with reminders to do this for about 8 years now. It helps to keep us on the same page for finances and avoid financial stress in our relationship too. Happy Budgeting!

  9. Budgeting Money September 27th, 2010

    I’ve tried sharing my budget tips with younger family members, and they shake their heads at me ’cause they don’t get it They think it’s just a little crazy or silly to do…

  10. Jon November 10th, 2010

    This is so easy. I really appreciate it.

  11. Riva January 6th, 2011

    Hello,

    Love the budget spreadsheet! I did it for 2010. Is there a way to have a 2011 one on the same spreadsheet but different page (on the bottom tab??) or do I have to download another spreadsheet for 2011?

    Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    Riva
    Virginia USA

  12. Mike July 3rd, 2011

    Thanks for the great budget speradsheet. Nice & simple yet includes about everything. I like the fact you can personalize it. We have an excel check register and have added 4 or 5 columns to track our variable expenses for the daily stuff. Thanks again Kerry.
    Mike

  13. elaine July 22nd, 2011

    Do keep in mind to keep some aside for other savings, like a vacation! Me and my fiancé were able to go on a cruise and do excursions only because we made it a point to put aside $100 a month! And when we spent it, we didn’t have to feel guilty about it. Budgeting is all worth it! We’re saving up for our next trip…

  14. valorie January 21st, 2012

    Thank you so much. I love your blog/site. I have read Dave Ramseys Total Money Makeover and had just begun my 7 day trial when I found your site. Needless to say I canceled my subscription to his site because your sheets are easier for me and free! I am really trying to trim the fat from our lives as next month we will lose almost $1100 a month in income. Major adjustment on our part. Also starting a small plant nursery to open this spring. So budgeting is a must from now on. I can’t thank you enough.

  15. Lin February 23rd, 2012

    I started writing down every single purchase in a notebook a month ago, and almost immediately I noticed how fast those little mindless purchases add up. $8 for lunch, $1.50 for coffee, $15 for a movie ticket. By being strict with myself and adhering to a budget, I’m finding that I have more money left over at the end of the month that I can use towards my student loans. Thanks to better habits, I am on track towards repaying my loans by the end of the year!

  16. Rebecca March 26th, 2012

    Going on 27 years old, am fair skinned and in the last couple years I have noticed the wrinkles or the “fine lines” starting to happen. Definite grumble.

    I am a pastry chef by trade, working in an underpaid job that I am thoroughly unenthusiastic about, actively trying to become fit and frugalicious. I’ve been working out everyday, sometimes once in the morning and once in the afternoon, although it’s tough trying to drag my butt out of bed every so often.

    My parents made make-ahead meals all growing up, I love them. I loved your article that talked about lentils and other dried beans, etc. Buying them dried is something I’ve never considered until you. After reading it I was inspired to make some sort of lentil stew. It turned into a creamy red curry coconut lentil stew with whatever veggies we had on hand. We ate some that night, and I froze the rest in large mason jars (we’re anti-plastic as much as possible).

    Love, love, love your articles, your creative ideas and this spreadsheet. Keep them coming you foxy woman! :D

    Much love from one of your many fans,
    Rebecca

  17. MPF April 12th, 2012

    Thanks so much for the free spreadsheet! I have been trying to figure out how to begin budgeting and your spreadsheet makes it so simple!

  18. pauline comeau April 14th, 2012

    Can t print the spreadsheet. What am i doing wrong. I ve tried many times. The page comes out blank

  19. TuppenceBank April 27th, 2012

    Great spreadsheet! It’s simple and straightforward. And with so many people using Google email and Docs, I’m wondering if it would be worth posting the spreadsheet as a public template in Google Docs (you can even add a little link back to your site for more advice). Anyway, it would make for an even more convenient reason to get those budgets started now.

    And parents might want to consider getting their little ones involved as well. Starting them down the right road now makes all the difference in the world.

  20. James July 16th, 2012

    Thanks for the free spreadsheet. Will pass this along to other people I work with that make building their own budget worksheet so complicated.

  21. Georgina May 9th, 2013

    Thank you very much. I have just started by downloading the spreadsheet. I shall visit you often to keep me motivated because I’ve started and stopped to often. Your emails are very heartening. Love you lots!

  22. Charles June 4th, 2013

    I love Excel and use it for tons of stuff. But my problem with tracking expenses is when we buy something with a credit card… because you’re not actually paying for it right then; you pay for it when you make your monthly credit card payment. And THAT payment will probably include charged items that are in other expense categories! Plus, if you record it both times – when you charge it and when you make the credit card payment – then it’s a duplication. So, which is more meaningful? When you charge it, or when you actually PAY for it?

  23. stacey August 27th, 2013

    My medical expenses are higher than my household mortgage which makes it hard to budget for sometimes. Thank you for your guidelines.

  24. Nat December 29th, 2013

    SF,
    First, thank you for providing the curriculum, class materials and mentoring for a course that should be mandatory at all levels of education, free of charge!!! The federal gov’t should acknowledge the effort your making and the effect it could have on our economy if everyone followed the path you have so clearly laid out.
    I was only fifteen when I received a copy of Chilton’s “The Wealthy Barber” in my stocking and have attempted to follow the barbers advice ever since. The funny thing is that as a student and then through a career as a snowboard instructor I practised pretty much what you have suggested with great success, ie with little income I budgeted, carried no debt, my possessions fit in a board bag and a backpack (no room for crap) and I was able to save/invest 10%. But now as I settle (bought a home, have just had our first child) into an “grown up” career making decent money with a fiancé who is also making decent money I find that we are hemorrhaging moolah. Last year with less than half of her income coming in (mat leave) we tightened the belt but still dipped into a line of credit. Big mistake!!! Now it’s like the rough budget that we have gets thrown out each month and the money intended for paying down the LOC ends up going towards the monthly cc bill as I refuse to carry any debt on a credit card. Oh my.
    So we are starting from scratch, following your guidance and using the tools you have provided, we will develop a new financial plan that will allow us to reach our goals.
    This leads to my first request. I have been going though the steps, making lists in the notes app on my phone and tablet. Not the most convenient method. Would you consider developing an app containing your system? I know that there are plenty of budgeting apps out there but they are just not foxy enough. What can I say, I like your style! And feel like you should be compensated for all of your hard work!!
    My second request is for more information. You have stated that a method of reducing debt is to increase your income and thus increase what you can afford to put towards your debt. With that in mind I am considering turning a hobby into a side business. Choosing how it should be set up is confusing (private enterprise vs incorporation etc..) and I’ve learned that there are implications when running a business from home with regards to insurance and municipal taxes among other things. I would truly love to have a series of articles concerning this written from the fox’s point of view. Just putting it out there.

    Thanks for everything,
    Nat

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