By Eric on January 17, 2013 36

Free Download: Budget Spreadsheet

If you’re already on a budget that works for you, you are awesome, keep going, and don’t read the rest of this post.

For the rest of you, we’d like to share a tool that has helped us take control of our finances and make enormous strides in our financial position over the past four years.

Update: I’ve written a book about the money lessons we’ve learned, the peace it’s brought to our lives, and practical steps to help you do the same. Read more about “It’s Your Money.”

Introducing… our free budget spreadsheet! You can get it by joining our newsletter list.

Free Budget Spreadsheet

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; everyone should be on a budget.

It doesn’t mean you can’t spend money, it just means that you “spend” your money on the spreadsheet before you spend it in real life. I like to think of our paycheck as a deck of cards, and before we can start playing the game, we have to deal all the cards. (no cards left in the dealer’s hands)

We originally got this free budget spreadsheet from our FPU mentors and our now insurance providers, the Conroys. They were kind enough to let us share it with you all. We’ve changed it a bit over the years and hope it will be as useful for you as it has been for us.

9 Tips to Making This Free Budget Spreadsheet Awesome:

(This info can also be found in the “HOW TO USE” sheet in the download.)

  1. Note the date bills are due in the column “A”: If you get paid on different dates each month, this will help you know what paycheck each payment will come from.
  2. Once you spend it, bold it: Once a transaction is complete and you have the correct amount noted on the monthly budget, bold it so you know that it’s been paid. At the end of the month you should be left with un-bolded items that need to be recorded on the “budget savings” tab and then bolded as well.
  3. Fuel calculator: This is at the bottom. Fill in how many gallons your vehicle(s) hold, the current price of gas, how many times you anticipate filling up each vehicle per pay period (based on your upcoming schedule), and it will give you a total to add to your budget. This is a rough estimate based on a complete fill up and has helped us budget our fuel expenses (a category that fluctuates a lot).
  4. Budget billing: You will quickly get tired of trying to guess how much your heat/AC bill is going to be. Ask your provider to be put on budget billing. It will save you lots of headaches and smooth out peaks and valleys in your month-to-month budgeting.
  5. Automatic payments: We set up all of our bills on auto payment. To do this you may have to fill out actual paperwork, but most can be done online. Just be sure to keep track of all your login/password information somewhere so you have easy access to them if you need to make changes.
  6. Cash: You don’t have to use cash for every category, but try for as many as you can. We take out cash for food, toiletries, hair care, and date night.
  7. Color by number: You’ll see that the budget is color coordinated. This is to help lump like items together. At the bottom, there are sums for each color. Feel free to change these up or add to or take away from them as you see fit. If you do make changes, just be sure to change the formulas at the bottom for each pay period by adding or subtracting the cells in the formula.
  8. Budget savings: This is a separate sheet and is how we keep track of money we have that we aren’t spending right now (savings). It’s saved for a purpose, been bolded on our budget, and now resides in our budget savings tab. This is where you save for things over many budget cycles. For instance, we save for Christmas gifts every month so that when November/December comes we have enough in our budget savings to cover it.
  9. New budget: We make a new budget every four weeks. When it’s time to make a new budget, follow these steps:

a. Right click on the current budget tab at the bottom.

b. Select “Move or Copy.”

c. Select your current budget so it places the new sheet before it.

d. Check “Create a copy.”

e. Highlight the whole sheet and un-bold all the items.

f. Adjust the budget numbers for the upcoming month.

There is some other information in the “HOW TO USE” sheet, and you get it all when you sign up for our newsletter. Below is a almost 13 minute video tutorial of how to use the budget.

Get the Free Budget Spreadsheet by signing up for our newsletter.

If you have questions about the budget spreadsheet, please leave a comment.

If you’d like to take your family budget to the next level, check out our family workbook.

For some other free budgeting spreadsheets, see this article from Christian Personal Finance.

P.S. We’ve started (May 2013)  using a budget application called “You Need a Budget.” We’re loving it. It does cost money, but it’s an alternative from the free spreadsheet we offer.

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Eric

Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I do love a spreadsheet! We already have a budget spreadsheet that we made ourselves, but I will definitely take this one for a spin to see how we like it :)

    • Awesome! I know how attached you can get to your own spreadsheet. We just made some of these changes to our own and it was tough to get used to. Just make sure it works for you! Or feel free to take things you like about it and add it to your own.

  2. I apologize if you’ve answered this elsewhere, but how do you track spending for categories where there are multiple expenditures, and you don’t use cash (i.e. gas)? Save receipts? I think the spreadsheet is great and appreciate you sharing it. I too use Mint but get caught short sometimes because I don’t check up soon enough before I’ve overspent for the month.

    • Katie, gas can be a real thorn in the side. We’ve found that it’s the one category that really fluxuates and can be hard to plan for. Not only are gas prices always on the move, but sometimes an un-expected trip to see the parents means an extra tank or two of gas. We use gascubby to track our maintenance and gas purchases. We usually estimate high and then save the extra if there is any. With the gascubby app we can gauge an average of how much we spend per month for a starting point.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this spreadsheet with some explanation. I downloaded the original spreadsheet from the link Kelsey was kind enough to send me but I couldn’t work it out… either I’m totally stupid, or very sleep deprived (I hope it’s the latter).
    Ok, I have a question for you two and I’m really sorry if you already responded to this in a previous post: do you track the money you spend in cash at all? We generally pay with our debit cards for the groceries, but we often end up running down to the store for an item or two, and we sometimes have to pay by cash (because it’s less than $5 or $10 and the store won’t take the debit card). I don’t like the idea of not tracking these expenses as we end up running down to the store a lot and I’m sure those quick shops really add up.

  4. I was wondering how you guys address Health Savings Accounts and Flex Spending– I have a Flex account for Day Care, and HSA for medical expenses. So, technically a doctor’s appointment or prescription might be an expense, but it’s only a temporary one because that money is then reimbursed (ours reimburses twice a month). Do you do it as an expense and then income, or do you just not track it because it’s a wash?

    Also, for our day care expense, my employer only allows us to flex $5,000/year, ($192 every 2 weeks), but our actual expense is more ($350/2 weeks.) So, a portion is reimbursed, but the rest has to be claimed on taxes. Again, would you record that as an expense, and then income?

    Thanks!

    • Since our employer handles our flex account and dependent care reimbursement, we simply keep track of the income we receive on our paycheck and the amount we will have to pay from that check. We think of it the same way as taxes. We don’t put our gross income on our budget and subtract out taxes because our employer takes care of that for us.

  5. Love your blog! My husband and I have been reading it for a few weeks now. Thanks for posting this sample spreadsheet. We’ve been using a spreadsheet budget for a few years (also on the DR plan), but it’s kind of loosey-goosey and this might be a nice, more structured replacement. I am having a bit of trouble filling it out because the formulas are confusing me, so I’m not sure that I’m putting my numbers where they should go. Can you post (or email me) one that has some sample numbers in it? Thanks!

    • Hi Lindsay, I totally get it. I should have had some examples or screenshots in the post. I’ll email you a sample with a few numbers plugged in.

  6. Dana in St. Louis March 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Hello!! We are about to embark on a new budget using your spreadsheet, thank you!!

    Just so I understand it, each “column” with the pay date at the top comprises a pay period with income at the top and expenses at the bottom? And it looks like you get a “pay period” view of where/when (what bill and/or date) you will be ahead or behind?

    If I’m correct in that, I think I will modify it a little for the way my brain works, and add in a “running total” at the bottom. It looks like your “pay period ending” doesn’t “carry forward” to the next pay period… so let’s say at the end of pay period #1 you are $200 in the negative. Pay period #2 starts “fresh” with your total income, which is not “applied” to your previous week’s $200 negative. So if you have $800 income each period, the top of “pay period #2″ would show $800 on your sheet, and I’m thinking of making it show $600 instead, so that the “balance” for each category is cumulative through the month, rather than the pay period.

    This is an awesome way to see the budget! I use Mint.com to track things, but it really is helpful to see what bills have what effects on your cash flow.

    • Hi Dana! I see what you are saying. This is zero based budget, meaning that by the time you get to the bottom you shouldn’t have anything left. Even if that means adding your “leftover” money to the savings category, so with that in mind, you shouldn’t ever have carry over. Also, you shouldn’t spend your money before you have it either.

      I hope that makes sense.

      • Dana in St. Louis March 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm

        Thanks for the comment, Eric! I see what you’re saying, so I should account for the remaining “leftover” portion of the income somewhere, in the “savings” sheet?

        Based on our pay periods and when bills are due (mainly the mortgage), we “run out” of income near the end of the first pay period, and then quickly make it up when the second pay period hits. That’s the only time in our budget that we go in the negative, and in the overall scheme of things, we are ahead at the end of the month, which makes up for the early-in-the-month negative.

        Am I using the spreadsheet wrong, if I’m going in the negative? We can’t very well move our mortgage due date. :(

        • you are correct. you can’t move when your payments are due. If you have the extra savings, it would be worth it to put some bills on your budget twice, so that going forward you have the money for the bills before they are due. For example, our mortgage is due on the 1st of April and kelsey and I get paid every other week, on opposite weeks. So we have a paycheck every week. We’ll split the cost of our mortgage over the next two paychecks so that we have enough money on the “mortgage” line item to pay it by April 1.

  7. Ok so I have just finished my first month trying this spreadsheet and the cash envelop system and I have a few questions:

    – my husband and I get paid every 2 weeks, since you can’t carry the leftover money to the following week, should we amend the spreadsheet to only have 2 pay periods? I’m just a little scared of messing with the formulas by doing so…

    – regarding the cash envelops, I have been looking at the envelop system wallets out there but it looks like they can only hold bills, not coins. Am I right? I have been using actual paper envelops so far and my cash often comes out of the envelops and mixed together. So annoying! How do you handle that? I can’t remember how the money works in America (I guess you have very small bills), but in Canada we still have up to $2 coins.

    -Still regarding the cash envelops, my husband works at an office and I work from home whilst looking after our baby, so far I have been keeping the envelops and doing the shopping but how do you guys split the money when you know you won’t be shopping together (maybe you don’t need to)? Sometimes I need to be able to ask my husband to get something on the way back from work, but it’s annoying if he doesn’t have the cash on him… And I guess he might need an envelop system wallet too…?

    Thanks!

    • Great questions. I’ll try to answer them all…

      1. Kelsey and I used to work at the same company and got paid every two weeks. We simply used the first two pay period columns on the budget and considered that “1 month.” We’d then duplicate that tab and start a new budget for the next two paychecks. I say “1 month” because if you get paid every two weeks you’ll actually have a couple extra paychecks a year. 26 pay periods vs. twice a month. Since bills come on a certain day per month, sometimes we pay the bills out of the first paycheck and sometimes it moves to the next paycheck. That’s why we use column A to keep track of when bills are due every month. This never changes. We then determine which paycheck the money will have to come out of based on the dates we will get paid that month. You shouldn’t have to change any of the forumlas.

      2. Envelopes: This can be a burden and take some getting used to. We use this envelope from Dave Ramsey’s store: http://www.daveramsey.com/store/budgeting-tools/starter-envelope-system/prod172.html It has a plastic coin holder. We have $1 bills here so, yes this might be more difficult in Canada. We let our coins be sort of a joint account for all of our envelopes. We just use the coins if they are in there, and any time we get change it goes in there too,no matter what envelope we paid from.

      3. When Kelsey and I worked together, she kept the envelopes with all of the money in her purse. When she switched jobs, this got a little more difficult. We have to plan things out in advance so I can have cash if I’m running errands after work, or over lunch. I also usually take $20 of our food money just in case I need it. I don’t carry envelopes though… it’s usually the only cash in my wallet and only used as needed.

      It’s not a flawless system, but we’ve been able to make it work over the years. We only use envelopes for a few categories: food, haircare, toiletries, and date night. We’ve found it works best for us that way. You might only use cash for a few as well. Whatever works. As long as it’s on your budget if it goes in an envelope or debit card it’s all the same.

      • Thank you Eric as always! You can’t imagine how much your posts on budgeting have and are helping us, it’s a lot of work to figure it all out (work in progress) but it’s so good to feel in control :)

  8. I tried downloading the spreadsheet, but all I got was a page of text in compatibility mode and saw no formulas or anything to work with?

  9. I have finally downloaded the spreadsheet! The struggle I have with budgeting and keeping a budget is being self employed (my fiancé too) therefore not knowing how much money I will be making each month. How does one budget with that hurdle?

    • Awesome Ashley! I can’t speak from experience, but what I’ve heard and read is that you should budget on an average. So, if you’ve tracked what’s come in over the past 3, 6, 12 months, you should be able to find the average and you can go off that. If not, just go with a ballpark and keep it low if it makes you feel better. As time goes on and you track your income, your average should become more stable and you’ll be better at anticipating your income month to month.

      It’s also important to pay attention to your business cycles if you have peaks and valley’s and to save during peak months for months with low income.

      • I don’t have any tabs at the bottom to create the next month. did I do something wrong?

        • You’ll need to right click on the month tab and select move or copy. Make sure to check the box that says “create a copy.” We do it this way so that your next month’s budget can start with your previous month’s numbers. Gives you a good starting point and less work entering all the numbers again.

  10. Lauren Melton July 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I would love to get a copy of the spreadsheet with numbers entered as well. If possible, can you email me a copy please? This is such great information!

  11. I have been looking for a budget spreadsheet system that would my husband and I. This looks like what I have been looking for. The question I have is, how would you change the spreadsheet for getting paid monthly. At this time we are only getting my income and my employer pays once a month. After 8 years I still have not managed to budget my pay to last the month.

    • Hey Jackie,

      If you have just one paycheck a month, you can just use the first paycheck column on the sheet and ignore the other three. However, I’m not sure that will work for you if you run out of money over the month, I think it might be more of a discipline problem. We budget a month ahead, so what we earn in November we will spend in December. So, at the beginning of the month, we’ll have all the money we need for the month.

      We also use cash for trouble categories, for us, that means food. We could take out the entire amount for the month on the 1st, but we too know we would blow through it and starve by the end of the month. So we split it and take out half on the 1st and the rest on the 15th. This works for us. You could do this with as many categories as needed. Cash or no cash, it’s more about breaking it down into manageable chunks that work for you.

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  14. I’m loving the concept of the glbl budget. My husband gets paid twice monthly and I get paid each week, and my pay varies, is there a simple way to modify this to weekly? I’m not that excel savvy. Thanks.

    • Hi Sarah, I would suggest using the spreadsheet in a 4 week timeframe manner. So, your husband’s paychecks would be in the first and third income/date column and then your paychecks would be added to every column. Then you would need to time your bills according to when they would need to be paid and when you would have the money.

      If your paycheck varies, you could enter in an estimate (I would shoot for the low end) at the beginning of the month, and then when you actually get paid, adjust the income on the spreadsheet and make any adjustments necessary to the budget items as well. Hope that helps!

  15. Is the spreadsheet editable on a newer mac? I am unable to change any of the fields. I don’t have a number keypad (numbers are across the top only). Does that have something to do with it?

    • Hi Brenda,

      It should be editable. Sometimes the first time you download the spreadsheet it can be a little wonky. Try re-downloading it again. Send me an email if you need the file again.

  16. Hey there!

    We have been using your budget sheet for a little bit and are still working on paying off student loans (not kidding, I typed stupid loans first. haha! They ARE stupid) anyway, this sheet has been a tremendous help and its a challenge but we are trying to be diligent.

    I have a question for you though….

    When we sell something or have random $ come to us (a hotel refund, sold clothes online etc) do we need to put that into our “income” for the week with our actually work income so we are tracking everything coming in? Is that a dumb question? I don’t know, it just seems to make my head hurt. Also, we have trouble when it comes to our house payment. It all comes out on the 20th of the month but our one paycheck for the week doesn’t cover the whole house payment.. do we need to save enough to account for the house the week before and keep that amount readily available in our checking account? It just seems we are always pulling $ from savings to pay for the house and we aren’t supposed to be pulling from that. We could always keep enough in checking to pay for the house but my husband doesn’t like to keep that much in there at a time. Have I confused the heck out of you? Probably so….

    Thanks for any help with the craziness above ;)

    • For the extra income… I would track everything. Because, then you can add the extra income to the budget and then allocate it to paying off your debt. Just want to make sure that the money doesn’t disappear on you!

      For the house payment… You’ll want to save a little bit out of your other paychecks to make sure that you have enough to pay the mortgage by the 20th. The idea is to save for it up front. You don’t want to be pulling from savings except for emergencies or planned expenses that you’ve already saved for.

      Let me know if you have further questions.

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