When you’re ready to start your personal or household budget, one of the best ways to begin is by downloading a free budget template like the one we provide below.
Our free budget spreadsheet is easy to use and completely free. It is detailed enough for nearly anyone to customize to their needs, and it is simple enough that even a beginner can use it. We’ll provide a few simple steps on how to use the spreadsheet, a video with some advice to get you started, and the link to download the template below.
How to Use Our Budget Sheet
If you’re comfortable using spreadsheets, then this is going to be very self explanatory and straight forward. Make sure you have a spreadsheet program available. I use OpenOffice.org instead of Excel because it’s free and just as easy to use. If you prefer, you can use Excel or even an online program like Google Docs.
Once you’ve got your spreadsheet program up and running, you’ll want to download the budget worksheet and save a copy to your computer. I have saved it in an .xls file but it will open in any of the spreadsheet programs that I previously mentioned.
Next, open the spreadsheet and take a look at how it’s formatted. You’ll see that there is a budget analysis at the top, but because all the fields are empty, it doesn’t make any sense yet. As you look further down the spreadsheet you’ll see that the first budget category that you’ll need to fill in is the income section, followed by the non-discretionary expenses, the discretionary expenses, and then your investing activities. Make yourself familiar with all of the categories so that you don’t get confused when you try to start entering your information from the top.
It’s important to know that we formatted this template so that you only have to enter your information into the cells highlighted in yellow. Once you do this, the formulas in the other cells will automatically be calculated and summarized.
You’ll notice that there are two columns for each expense and income category. One is for a monthly expense and one is for an annual expense. That’s because some expenses are incurred each month while others only happen once or twice a year. You’ll want your budget to include a portion of the annual expenses in each month, that way your finished budget will represent an average monthly budget. Money that is not actually spent that month should be saved in your account for when the annual expense does arrive.
Also, as you start going through the expense and income categories, you’ll probably find many expenses that don’t apply to you. You’ll also likely find many expenses that you have that aren’t included in this spreadsheet. For these reasons, you’ll need to learn how to add and modify rows in the document. It is easy to just change the name of an expense to one that meets your requirements, as all of the formulas will remain intact. However, if you need to add a row, make sure that the formulas that should include that expense are changed to reference the newly added row. If a row is added in between two other existing expenses, then this should automatically be done for you because the calculations are typically based on ranges. Just in case you make any mistakes or a formula gets changed, you’ll want to look your budget over closely when you’re done and make sure that everything seems in order and checks out.
How to Analyze Your Budget Using The Spreadsheet
When you’re finished entering all of your information, there will be a few rows of calculations automaticaly calculated for you at the top of the spreadsheet. Specifically, it will tell you what percent of your income is spent on non-discretionary expenses, discretionary spending and investment or savings. It will also show you how much money you have left over after all of these expenses. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the final number is positive. If not, you’ll be going into debt each month until you can reduce your budget.
Once you have completed the budget worksheet and are comfortable using it, we recommend making a copy of the sheet and filling it in with your actual expenses for each month. Once you do this, you can then compare your monthly budgets over time to see if you are making progress. Use the general budget to set your goals, and then measure your actual expenses against the budget you set. These are the basics to budgeting and hopefully this will make it easier for you to accomplish your financial goals.
Watch Our Video on How to Use the Free Budget Template
Here is the video that we created to give you a quick explanation of how to use the template. Some people learn faster by seeing and hearing, so if you are one of these people, we hope this video will help you get up and running quicker.
Download and Save to Your Computer
Here is a copy of the spreadsheet that we’ve discussed throughout this post. After downloading and using it, please leave us a comment below.
To download, click on the button above and select “save as”. Then, download to your computer and open with any spreadsheet program.
We hope you enjoy using our free budget download. Don’t forget to leave us a comment below.