There are so many budget apps and services on the internet. How do you get started?
Just like balancing a checkbook gave people an intimate relationship with their account balance, using excel will do the same for your budget. It can help you better understand what’s going on behind the scenes.
Budgeting is the first step to becoming financially independent. If you're not familiar with the FIRE movement, Start Here!
I promise you don’t need to be an Excel power user to get started using Excel to track your income and expenses.
Excel Budget Templates
You can get started right away by utilizing a premade Excel budget template. The beauty of the Excel spreadsheet is:
It includes the formulas
It is colorful and pretty
It opens your eyes to possibilities
No analysis paralysis
When you open up Excel, simply go to File>New, then search for the term “budget.” You will be presented with several choices including, Personal Monthly Budget, Household Monthly Budget, and even Wedding Expenses Budget.
This is a family-focused website, so let’s search for “Household Monthly Budget.”
Using the Excel Budget Template
Before you begin punching in your numbers for the upcoming month, take a few minutes to get a feel for the Excel template. Does it look sufficient for your needs? Don’t forget, there are different tabs at the bottom of the template.
Out of all the premade templates I looked at, I thought this was one of the easiest and most capable of the budget templates.
Budget Overview Sheet
This is the first sheet you’re greeted with when you open the template in Excel:
The purpose of this “Budget Overview” sheet is to input your household income and get a 30,000-foot view of your monthly financial situation.
Don’t freak out yet, most of the numbers on this page are dependent on fields that you will customize next.
Notice the helpful tooltip in the yellow box? Each page has one.
Go ahead and customize the relevant boxes. I’ll wait :)
Budget Summary Sheet
The next page is the Budget Summary. The purpose of this sheet is to input the bulk of your monthly expenses. If you’re new to budgeting, don’t worry! It’s a progressive thing.
You will likely be a little off, or way off at the end of the month, but you will learn from it and make the adjustments.
If there is a field you don’t need or use, I would recommend just inputting a “0” Unless you are comfortable in Excel and want to delete the field altogether. If you’re anything like me, you will want to progress on to an app service that ties directly to your bank account like Dave Ramsey’s everydollar budget app.
On the Budget Overview, notice if you double click on the expense field for “Housing” It will take you to an additional sheet with a bunch of subcategories. You can input information here and it will cascade to the other sheets.
Monthly Expenses Sheet
The third sheet, we’re almost done! I sincerely hope this guide has been helpful up to this point. The Monthly Expense Sheet is similar to the previous Budget Overview. It’s a little more clear and you can further fine-tune your expenses.
Additional Data Sheet
The additional data sheet effects two of the other sheets in this Excel template. The “Budget Chart” pivot Table controls the chart on the “Budget Overview” sheet and the “Category List” table allows you to add or remove categories on the “Monthly Expenses” sheet.