With the new year just a few days away, now is an excellent time to start keeping a better eye on your finances. In our house, my husband is the one who really handles the money…He pays the bills, makes the trips to the bank, etc…So, for me, to lay out all of our expenses and truly see where our money goes each month was really helpful, and prompted me to do my part to manage our finances. Having a budget spreadsheet can also help in times of financial hardship. As we’ve been going through a rough spot financially, it was really helpful to be able to quickly see what we were able to cut out of our budget, what absolutely had to stay, etc.
I found that keeping track of how much money we put on the debit card each month was the most informative piece for me. Often, we can so easily just swipe the card and not think about the fact that we are actually spending money. Quick trips to the store can add up quickly. As we began to see that we needed to cut all unnecessary spending out of our budget, I was glad that I had been keeping track of debit purchases. (And they were the first thing to go!) Whether you are financially stable, or struggling to stay afloat, it is just good to be aware of how you are spending your money, and how much goes to pay bills, and how much goes towards non-essentials. (I also found it interesting how some of the things we deem necessary during times of stability are truly NOT essential in times of hardship.) To track your debit purchases, create an online account on your bank’s website. Then, log into your account each month, and tally up all of the debit purchases you’ve made for that month. (There will be dates and information about where you spent the money and how much you spent. Ie- Subway – $10.64 3/23/10) If you use cash, make sure to include that too! You may need to keep a small notebook with you to tally up your expenses, or just keep track of your receipts. (We found that it was easier for us to track our spending using the debit card, so we switched from the cash system we’d been using.)
To make your own budget spreadsheet, you will need to create a new Excel document. I have included an example of the one I created for David and myself. You are welcome to copy and paste it, and use it in your home. You will just need to put in your own bills and monthly expenditures, as well as your own sources of income. Make sure you include EVERY bill you pay! (Don’t forget bills that may come every other month, or quarterly!)
I hope this helps you! Happy budgeting!
I created a budget spreadsheet five years ago when I moved to California and got my first full time job (yay!).
Mine is different – I have a spreadsheet tab for each month, with all expenses except airfare (or other big splurges, like a new laptop or the ring I got my fiance). Each expense gets a category, like rent, clothes, cafe, food, trans (bus/train), etc.
Secondly, I’ve started this thing where every 6 months I create a new tab to look at average expenses by category – shocking to see how much I spent on coffees or eating out, for example!
FinallyI also have a tab that summarizes everything – that’s where I can run calculations to see my average monthly expenses vs monthly income. That’s also where I look at my annual gross income, retirement contributions, federal/state estimated taxes, etc, to make sure I have extra to put to savings!
oh here’s the categories I more or less use for labeling my expenses: rent, utilities, trans, dining (eating out), travel (airfare), fun (movies & such), clothes, gifts (I was shocked to see how much I spend on presents!), beauty (I splurge on nice lotions), food (aka groceries), stuff (TP, soap, all those boring necessities), cafe (I go enough that I wanted to separate this from eating out, health care (copays, contacts, tests, etc), donation/philanthropy, exercise
oh and I just saw this – the 2011 tax tables – good for planning ahead, too: http://www.crescendointeractive.com/cres_code.jsp?WebID=GL1999-0001&Cat=2&ID=401