I know, I know, the word “spreadsheet” often sends chills up my spine and I break out in a cold sweat, but I promise, this is soooo simple! And if you follow any suggestions from any of my posts, it should be this one. Seriously!
(You may need to click to enlarge)
Isn’t it beautiful?! This is a sample of a budget sheet I had prepared for someone and I rounded the numbers a little just to make things a little easier. This spreadsheet is GREAT if you’re just starting out and you’re not sure what you can afford or not. It’s even great if you’re not just starting out and you’re just looking to cut down in some places and save more money! I’m going to break it down for you so that it’s a little easier for you to make your own. It’s easy, just be realistic about how much you plan to spend in certain sections like: food, entertainment, savings, etc. Don’t expect to only spend $20 for entertainment a month if you know that you go out to eat twice a week.
1. You want to start out with your monthly income and the income of your spouse, partner, or maybe even a roommate. If you don’t receive a fixed monthly or weekly income then just estimate or average it out according to your previous paystubs. Then you want to add your income and the income of your spouse or roommate. If you don’t have a roommate or spouse and this spreadsheet is just for you, then just add the total at the bottom. Then take your monthly income and divide it by 2 in order to get your bi-weekly income. Once you’ve done that, take that number and multiply it by 26 (if you get paid every two weeks) or by 24 (if you only get paid on the 15th and 30th of each month) in order to get your annual income. If you have a partner on this spreadsheet, do the same for them. Then, add it all up. Add both of your monthly incomes together and put the total and add both of your annual incomes and put that at the bottom of the ‘Income’ section.
2. Now it’s time to talk about expenses. You want to make a list of every single bill that you have during the month. If you look at the sample there are expenses such as: rent, cable, cell phone, electric, and food. If you own a home you obviously won’t put rent. You will substitute that for a mortgage payment. Once you list all of the household expenses you want to put the exact amount that you pay each month under the ‘Monthly’ column. Once you’re done filing that in, go row by row and multiply those bills individually by 12. For example if you pay $850 a month in rent, multiply that $850 by 12 to get $10,200 for your annual expense.
3. Move onto the ‘Automobile’ section. Here you will want to list all expenses that have to do with your automobile. For example: Car payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance. Your car payments and insurance should be around the same price every month but your gas and maintenance may vary. I always pay for gas with my debit card so when my monthly statement comes in the mail, I add up how much I spent that month on gas, but for this you’ll want to either estimate or average off how much you spend. As for maintenance, I’m sure you’re not getting your oil changed or tires rotated every single month. Some months you may not spend any money on maintenance for your car but you want to put in some amount that you think is appropriate.
4. The next section is ‘Entertainment’. I consider entertainment expenses to be going out to eat, catching a movie, purchasing a video game, or anything that is a one time kind of thing. Allow yourself to have a certain amount of money every month for entertainment purposes. And remember, be realistic!
5. The ‘Liabilities’ section is important. This is for any credit card, student, or any other loan you might currently have. You may not pay the same amount every month but you want to give yourself a certain amount that you feel comfortable paying. That way if you want to pay a little more or a little less during a certain month, you won’t feel so bad.
6. My favorite and probably the MOST important part of this spreadsheet is the ‘Savings’ section. Every month you want to be able to put some amount of your income into savings. Whether it’s $20 or $200. Talk it over with your partner to see what you’re willing to put away every month and then enter that amount in the ‘Monthly’ column of your savings section. Multiple it by 12 to see how much you could be saving annually! If you don’t have a savings account or you’re looking for a better one, check out the ING Orange Savings Account.
7. This is the fun part. It’s like the “results” of the entire spreadsheet. ‘Total Income’ will just be your combined incomes from the top of the spreadsheet. ‘Total Expenses’ will be the total of all of your ‘Expense’ columns so you’ll need to add up your Household, Automobile, Personal, Liability, and Savings totals together to get that amount. Multiple them by 12 for the ‘Annual’ amount. To get the ‘Discretionary’ amount you want to subtract your ‘Total Income’ from your ‘Total Expenses’. Then the ‘Discretionary’ row is for any money that you have left over from your monthly expenses. Now you’ll get to decide if you want to adjust any of your amounts above. Let’s say that you only want to pay $150 towards your Visa CreditCard debt. Maybe now you want to increase or decrease that amount to make your discretionary amount bigger or smaller. You can also decide if you want to increase your savings amount, which I would prefer!
And that’s it for the monthly budget spreadsheet! I told you it wasn’t so bad. I have the blank prepared excel spreadsheet so if you’d like my template just let me know either in the comments or by email at email@example.com. If you don’t have Excel I can send you a GoogleDocs Spreadsheet that is similar that you can keep online. And if you don’t want that either, I can send you a plain template for you to print out and write the totals and all of your categories in the open spots. Any way that I can help, let me know!
The next and final step to this financial organization project is the Yearly Budget Spreadsheet but you’ll need to have this monthly spreadsheet done first. So work on becoming more financially aware and organized and I’ll be posting the yearly spreadsheet soon.