How budget spreadsheets and worksheets transform your finances
Discover how a budget spreadsheet can put you on the fast-track to financial success.
8 min read
Budget spreadsheets offer a great way of tracking our finances. They make sure we stay on budget, and help us achieve our savings goals. By using a budgeting spreadsheet, we learn how to manage our money and can effectively plan for the future.
In these uncertain times, feeling in control of your finances can offer reassurance. Budgeting worksheets and spreadsheets allow us to manage our money with confidence. Read on to find out more.
What are budgeting worksheets and budget spreadsheets?
Budget spreadsheets and budgeting worksheets are two separate entities. A budgeting spreadsheet works with spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. A budget worksheet is usually a stand-alone form, often a downloadable PDF.
Therefore, a budgeting worksheet can offer a basic introduction into your finances. Once you’ve got a solid overview of your budget, you can then take the leap into using a budget spreadsheet, which can be more complex. Here are some great budgeting worksheets to get started with:
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau budgeting worksheet
Funded by the American government, the CFPB offers a comprehensive budgeting worksheet which you can access as an online PDF from their website. To begin, you enter your monthly income from sources such as your job, government programs, additional side gigs, and any disability allowances.
Then, you enter all of your expenses, covering categories such as your cell phone bill, rent, debt payments and vet bills. The worksheet then automatically subtracts your expenses from your income to see how much you have left over (if anything!) and the end of the month.
The Federal Trade Commission budgeting worksheet
A bipartisan federal agency, the FTC offers a slightly more in-depth budgeting worksheet than the CFPB. Again, accessible as PDF via their website, this worksheet asks you to input all of your income before listing all of your expenses. One advantage of this worksheet is that it groups expenses into different categories, including:
Personal and family
This means that you get an idea of how much you are spending in each area of your life. However, this worksheet does not tally up the totals for each category—just your expenditures as a whole.
Nerdwallet budgeting worksheet
Nerdwallet has created a budgeting worksheet which you can complete directly on their website. After you input your income (after tax), the worksheet breaks down your expenses in accordance to the 50/30/20 rule.
Created by US Senator Elizabeth Warren, the 50/30/20 rule is a budgeting system designed to help people get out of debt. The idea is that 50 percent of your income after tax goes towards your necessities (rent, electricity bill, car insurance), 30 percent goes towards your wants (clothing, dining out, alcohol), and 20 percent goes towards your debt repayments and savings goals.
The budgeting worksheet from Nerdwallet breaks down your finances into these three categories, helping you see how close your budget matches the 50/30/20 rule.
Free budget spreadsheets
If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth than a worksheet, then budget spreadsheets offer a good alternative. These spreadsheets help you to create a budget, track your spending, and generate detailed reports.
By keeping all of your financial information in one place and regularly updating it, you have a better overview of your finances. Here are some free budget spreadsheets to consider:
MoneyUnder30.com free budget spreadsheet
The free spreadsheet from Moneyunder30.com is compatible with both Microsoft Excel and Google Docs. After downloading it, you simply enter all of your income after tax and all of your expenditures. The spreadsheet then calculates how much you have left at the end of the month.
A great benefit of using a spreadsheet as opposed to a worksheet is how you can save it and update it regularly, so you always have an up-to-date picture of your monthly budget. What’s more, moneyunder30 also encourages you to modify the sheet to match your own spending habits—this could mean changing and adding categories to better reflect your expenditures. Many budgeting apps also offer the opportunity to personalize and fine-tune your budget, while still requiring less effort than using a spreadsheet or a worksheet.
However, if you just want to get a quick overview of your monthly budget, moneyunder30.com also offers a budgeting worksheet which can provide a solid basic understanding of your finances.
Vertex 42 free budget spreadsheets
If you’re looking for variety, Vertex 42 offers a wide range of free budget spreadsheets which are easy to use, regardless of how tech-savvy you are. While nearly all of their spreadsheets are compatible with Microsoft Excel, many of them can also be opened with OpenOffice Calc and Google Docs.
Thanks to the impressive range available, you’re bound to find a budgeting spreadsheet that matches your lifestyle. Some of Vertex 42’s free spreadsheets include:
Detailed project budget
Savings snowball calculator
Monthly budget calendar
Budgeting made easy
Visualize your daily expenses and savings to help you make the most out of your money.
When using spreadsheet software such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, it can be easier to use a spreadsheet template rather than creating your own spreadsheet from scratch. Here are some templates you can find pre-made in these different programs:
Google Sheets templates
Google Sheets offers a range of template options for helping you create a budget. Two such options include their monthly budget and their yearly budget spreadsheet templates:
The monthly budget template offers a straightforward format for those just getting used to the budgeting process, as well as those who want a simple budgeting solution.
The yearly budget template creates a more thorough budget, which incorporates factors such as projected income and savings in addition to recording actual income and savings. This template consists of both a monthly as well as a yearly budget, so you can stay on track with your long-term goals by fine-tuning your monthly budget.
Microsoft Excel templates
Microsoft Excel offers a variety of free budgeting templates, such as the simple monthly budget and the household expense budget. By upgrading, you can get access to their premium templates, which include:
Monthly college budget
Family budget planner
Due to their varied selection, Excel will have a budgeting template to match your needs. Many of these templates come with infographics and graphs that visually depict your expenses, making your budget easier to understand.
How to make a budget spreadsheet in Excel
For €69 a year, you can purchase the Microsoft Office Suite for Mac and Windows. This subscription includes the following programs:
But if you just want access to Excel, you can get a basic free version of Microsoft Office that you can use exclusively online. Alternatively, you could consider using Google Sheets or Apple Numbers. Both are free and offer a similar level of functionality to Excel.
How to create a budget spreadsheet
Once you’ve opened Excel, or your alternative spreadsheet software, the easiest option is to choose a premade template. However, if you don’t find a template that matches your requirements, you can make your own personalized budgeting spreadsheet. Here’s how:
1. Create a column for your sources of income
To begin, you’ll need to create a column where you input all of your sources of income. At the bottom of the column, create a cell which adds up all of your income into a total sum. To generate this figure in Excel, type the following formula into the total cell:
=SUM((the first cell with a figure in the column):(the last cell with a figure in the column)).
This will give you a formula looks something like this:
By separating the first cell and the last cell in your column with a colon, Excel understands this to mean that every cell between (and including) these two cells must be added together.
2. Create a column for all of your expenditures
Similarly to the steps you’ve just followed, you now need to make a column for all of your expenditures. This means keeping track of every single transaction you make over a monthly period and inputting it into this column.
Once you’ve entered a months’ worth of expenditures, you can create a cell that calculates the total sum of your outgoings using the same formula mentioned above. If your expenditure column is next to your income column, the formula may end up looking similar to this:
3. Subtract your expenditures from your income
Now that you have two columns with two sum totals, you need to subtract your monthly expenditures from your monthly income to see how much money (if any!) remains. To do this, create a third column and title it “cash balance”. Then use the following formula:
Type “=” into the cell and then add the cell number that houses your total income after it. For example: =B5.
After this, add a “-” subtract symbol and add the cell number that houses your total expenditures. For example: -C30
You should then have a formula such as: =B5-C30
This will now calculate the sum of your remaining money for the month.
If you continue to create a new budget spreadsheet every month, you will get a solid overview of your spending habits. By comparing your budgets month-on-month, it gives you a greater understanding of the areas you are overspending in, and sets you on the right path to creating new, financially healthy habits.
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