Do you use an Excel Budget Planner or Basic Budget Worksheet?
If your family doesn’t operate using an Excel budget planner or basic budget worksheet then that is the financial equivalent of throwing darts at a board and hoping you hit the target.
I’m not here to chide or scold; I’ve been there!
Both myself and my family operated for years (decades even!) not doing a household budget. We spent until there was nothing left to spend. Then we simply put the rest of our expenses on a credit card. In short, we were NORMAL!
But I’m here to tell you there’s a better way!
If you use an Excel budget planner or basic budget worksheet each month, I can almost guarantee the following:
- You will find extra money you didn’t know you had
- Your family will quickly identify where you are over-spending
- You will get control of your money instead of your habits and lack of discipline controlling it
You see a monthly household budget template is simply a road-map. What happens when we are driving in unfamiliar territory without GPS or a road-map?
Sure we might find our destination. But you stand a greater chance of getting lost! Or best case scenario, you find a less efficient route and arrive at your destination somewhat by accident.
— Royal Neighbors (@RoyalNeighbors) January 15, 2017
A basic budget worksheet doesn’t have to be complicated!
And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There’s also more than one way to do a monthly budget.
Some folks like the online ease of a free tool from Dave Ramsey called EveryDollar. Others prefer the good ‘ole pad of paper and a pencil. Perhaps there’s even someone out there who still balances a checkbook.
Whether you use an Excel budget planner or basic budget worksheet, the one that works for you is the RIGHT ONE!
Download your free basic budget worksheet!
A budget isn’t something most of us were taught at school or by our parents. In fact we’re told to just get credit cards and keep spending no matter what your income or expenses are.
In truth, the most important thing is doing one each and every month. The tool or method you use is not very important. It’s also crucial that both spouses agree on it.
Personally I prefer and use a customized Excel budget planner. My family and I have been doing that about 7 years now
I have a copy of my Excel budget planner available at no charge – a key step in your household budget!
It’s a simple, highly customizable, basic budget worksheet and you can download it quickly and easily FOR FREE!
I also have a couple of previous blog post that can help you. One is about why you need Multiple Bank Accounts.
Another is Paycheck to Paycheck – 7 ways to stop being broke! If your family is struggling with your finances, I highly recommend reading those too; or check out all my personal finance tips under the Finances tab at the top of the site.
The proven power of dividing your paycheck the right way
While everyone’s situation is a little different, this is how I break up my paychecks each month.
So what are my . . .
5 Top Excel Budget Planner Tips for your basic budget worksheet?
1. PRIORITIZE YOUR EXPENSES
List out all your known expenses; mortgage/rent, utilities, grocery money, etc. Then put them from top to bottom in order of importance. Guess what? Mortgage and car insurance tops getting coffee at Starbucks every day.
Doing this should give you a very clear idea of your spending habits. Seeing these numbers on paper (especially BOTH spouses/partners) transforms you. Most households have 1 person who does the bills and often the other is very out of touch. When we get out of touch with money it becomes VERY hard to win at the money game.
Thus the household budget becomes your new best friend in terms of letting you both truly see where your hard earned cash is going! This leads us to our next tip.
2. CUT OUT UNNECESSARY EXPENSES
Once you see where all your money is going, it should be easy to identify places to cut. A family of 4 making $50k/year and you’re spending $80 to $100 or more per month on cable TV? Bye, Bye HBO. That’s just not realistic for that family (been there, done that).
But there’s probably even more you can cut! Make sure you’re not paying for double insurance coverage (ie: you have health insurance but also have the medical option on auto – but check with an expert before making changes like that! After all; I don’t know you or your situation at all).
You can also create a line just for eating out and that way, when you’ve hit your agreed upon limit; you’re done until the next pay period.
3. CREATE A SLUSH FUND FOR YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE
You and your spouse need to agree on how the household budget is set up, but once you agree on an amount you each get per week, that’s where the freedom comes in. Basically I’m talking about paying each of you a weekly allowance.
Decide on an amount and both agree to it; that’s how much each of you get each week for personal spending.
One spouse can’t give up daily Starbucks or smoking? That comes out of their money and the other shouldn’t criticize how it gets spent. But once it’s spent, that’s it until next time. If you want to have a discussion about smoking, have that discussion, but it has no place in a monthly household budget meeting.
4. DON’T HAVE A LARGE AMOUNT LEFT OVER
You know what happens when we have a large amount of cash laying around? That’s right! We spend it! Thus, while it’s OK to end the month with a few bucks left over as cushion (you’ll start the next month with it anyway), you want to make sure that no large amounts of money are just sitting there without an assignment.
If you have too much cash and not enough expenses, that’s great! But are you saving for kid’s college? Retirement? Summer vacations, Christmas spending? If you aren’t then you should be and that’s where that extra money should go.
Still have money left over in your household budget? That’s a great time to find a tax-deductible charity to donate to. Still money left over? Sounds like a great time to pay extra principal on your mortgage payment. Or (if you don’t own your home) start saving for a home purchase.
Speaking of Christmas spending. That is something you should be doing all year so you aren’t strapped, freaked out or reaching for the credit cards every November. Check out my previous post on that subject Christmas Spending Habits – 5 Improvements You Must Make!
5. DON’T FORGET ABOUT IRREGULAR EXPENSES
Auto repairs, new tires, annual auto registration, oil changes. These and a number of other things are great examples of expenses that we know are coming that aren’t monthly. Thus you need to have a system to organize and plan for these expenses so they don’t sneak up on us. I don’t want you driving on bald tires, but I also don’t want you reaching for the credit card simply due to poor planning.
My preferred system is using a web-based organizer (also available as an app) called GQueues. This program is an on-line to do list. It even connects with my Google calendar, sends me reminders and much more.
Using GQueues I set up folders for each calendar month. Then within the appropriate month I put reminders of upcoming expenses (allowing at least 2 weeks or more lead time). You can also set tasks to be recurring, so things like annual auto registration automatically pop up at the same time every year.
But whatever system you prefer, you have to have something to help you remember to budget for these things as they come up.
Another method that could work would be to annualize the cost of all these things (how much you think you’ll spend in the next 12 months) and then simply divide that number by 12 and put that amount in savings each month. Then you’ll simply transfer that money into checking as needed.
Going that route works best if you don’t have any of those coming up in the immediate future since you’ll need a little time to build it up.
Dave Ramsey is the man my family personally followed in both getting out of debt and also getting our household budget and finances in order. He’s a wealth of knowledge and entertaining to boot!
Want to really get knowledgeable about personal finance? Listen to Dave!
What are your best Excel budget planner tips?
Can you say what hasn’t worked for you and why? Have you tried other basic budget worksheets and found them to be difficult to use?
What is holding you back from implementing some of these?
Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!
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Photo credits (that aren’t mine):
Budget chalkboard – http://www.investmentzen.com/image-gallery
Money dart – http://www.investmentzen.com/image-gallery
Of course I have to add in that this post, like all my personal finance posts, is not intended as “financial advice”. I offer my opinions based on my experience, research and my own mistakes. Thus if you need financial advice you should seek out a professional in that area who is legally authorized to give financial advice.