Click below for the free budget template that matches your lifestyle
Keeping control over your finances is crucial to your overall financial health, but this can be easier said than done without the right tools in place. With all the different channels of money coming in and out, it's virtually impossible to have a good handle on your budget without having all the pertinent figures written down and organized in a certain manner.
This is where a budget spreadsheet can come in very handy - creating such a spreadsheet can help you maintain control over your finances, and help you stick to your short- and long-term financial goals.
Here are some strategies to help you develop your personal budget spreadsheet.
Set Realistic Goals
Make a list of all the short- and long-term financial goals that you'd like to accomplish. Why are these goals priorities in your life, and how do you plan on reaching them? Asking yourself these questions will help put perspective on what you want to achieve in your financial life.
Short-term goals should take no longer than a year to achieve, such as paying off credit card bills. Long-term goals should take a number of years to attain, such as saving for your child's college tuition. Make sure that your goals are realistic based on your financial situation.
Have a Firm Grasp on Your Net Income
Many people don't have an accurate idea of how much money they really are taking home. Often times income tax, 401(k) contributions, social security, and other expenses that are knocked off their monthly pay are not accounted for, which causes them to have an inflated idea of how much they really have to cover expenses.
It's crucial to factor in all these other expenses - your 'net income' is essentially what your final take-home pay is after all these other expenses have been deducted, and is the figure that should be used when creating a budget.
Develop Your Budgeting Plan
Separate your expenses into fixed and variable expenses on budgeting plan. Fixed expenses would include items such as your mortgage, while variable expenses can include items like entertainment. You may also consider including categories such as needs, wants, and savings to help further classify your spending. Using a sample budget template can help a great deal in this endeavor, and allow you to categorize your monthly spending accurately.
Keep Track of Your Spending Habits
Many expenses, like groceries, gas for your car, and so forth, can be tough to track. It's helpful to keep all your receipts, and keep track of them in a journal, or simply plug these numbers into a sample budget template which you can access to quickly and easily add up the total from these figures.
After tallying up all these receipts at the end of the month, you'll have a very good idea of how much you're spending, and whether or not your net income is enough to cover it.
Customize Your Budget
The beauty of developing a budget is that you can personalize it to suit your specific life and financial situation. For instance, if you're a college student, you may account for things such as tuition fees, textbooks, rent, and so on. A parent of small kids may include items such as day care expenses, groceries, child savings accounts, and so forth.
Click here to download the XLS file sample budget template.xls.
Once you've determined your fixed expenses, you can then tweak your variable expenses, which allows you some wiggle room to decide where you can spend more money, and where you should cut back.
Look to an Online Tool to Help You Manage Your Finances
To access a useful and easily customizable sample budget template, look to Mint.com. This website makes budgeting a cinch, no matter how complicated your finances may be. They make it easy to get the total picture of your financial information by gathering all of your balances and transactions in one place.
Staying up-to-date on your money has never been easier - whether you're accessing your budget spreadsheet from your laptop, tablet, or even your mobile phone, you can quickly and easy access your finances to help you stay on top of things! Try it today for FREE by going to Mint.com.