Amanda here! Anyone who knows me knows I am Type A from head to toe. I had 2 majors and 2 certificates while working 3-4 jobs in school, so most aspects of my life were pretty scheduled and organized. For that reason, I’ve developed some budgeting strategies for myself that I try to follow as closely as possible.
One such strategy is my budget spreadsheet that I use to keep track of all my income, spending, and debts. I use it religiously to track each time I spend or receive money and how I am progressing through paying off my car and student loans.
So… I thought I would share it with you all! Below is a link to a Google Sheets version of it. I had originally started it in Excel, but then I realized how much more efficient it is on Google Sheets. Now I can access it anywhere, so I can literally update it as I am spending. Check it out and make a copy/download it for yourself!
A couple notes about the spreadsheet:
- You’ll see that there is a master spreadsheet that tracks month to month and includes a “budgeted” row and an “actual” row for each month. I use the “budgeted” row to estimate my income for each month and then divvy up my spending limits across each category. Then, you’ll be able to directly compare what you budgeted for yourself and how much you actually spent! Hooray for self accountability!
- The spending categories are obviously specific to me, but change them in your version as needed! Don’t use any public transportation (“metro”) but want to budget how much you spend on your pets? Change it! Or maybe you don’t have a car loan but you are paying off credit card debt. Working toward saving for something specific? Add a column for that account. Personalize this as you need it, it is a tool for you to maximize to your needs.
- Most formulas are already input. For example, the “left over” column will automatically calculate the difference between your income and spending. The columns associated with how much is paid towards debts and your savings account will update your balances in those accounts. Also, the “[Month] Actuals” tabs are linked to the master spreadsheet, so as you update each time your earn or spend money, it will update the master. You may need to adjust some formulas as you go if you end up personalizing it and if you continue to use it into the next few months (I hope you do!), you’ll have to add on additional pages and link them to the master. I may update it as the months progress, but no promises (;
- I’ve input some sample numbers so you can see how it all works together. You can see that I budgeted out certain payment amounts towards savings, car loan, and student loan, and you can watch how those amounts affect the balance of those accounts. Input any debt amounts you have and play with the monthly payments to see how yours will work out!
- *Note: I did not calculate interest in any loans or savings accounts to keep it as simple as possible
- I’m a very visual person, so you’ll notice that some columns have color scales associated with them. I use these to be able to watch the colors change as I reach my goals. (Red= high balance, green=approaching $0). Take these off if you don’t like them (under “conditional formatting”), adjust them as needed to fit your numbers, or change the colors to whatever makes you feel good(:
Okay, all that being said, I know that a budget like this can be somewhat overwhelming and maybe a bit presumptive. I am very, very fortunate to be able to afford everything I need, plus some extra for fun, savings, and to over-pay on my debts. I certainly know this is not the case for everyone. Especially any still-in-school or recently-graduated readers- I know times can be tough financially. But I really hope you can use this tool to take control of your finances. When I was in school and struggling to pay my bills every month, it sometimes felt easier to just ignore it all and not worry about it. But I can’t tell you how much better it feels to see all the numbers laid out in front of me and to know what I had to work with (in some cases, it was even nice knowing “okay, I’m going to be $200 short this month- now how can I fix that?”).
Like I said before, tailor this spreadsheet to your needs and budget according to what YOU can do. Can you put $10 a month into savings? That is amazing! Seriously, even the littlest bit not only grows your wealth (and your trip fund), but also honestly feels so good! Are you pretty limited to only paying your minimums toward your debts? Budget them out and feel good that you’re on track! Could you maybe swing an extra $5/month towards those debts? Play with the numbers and see if you could pay it off earlier than expected! What I’m saying is, I hope this tool can be useful to anyone- those who are making more than they know what to do with and those who are struggling month to month. Take control of your finances either way!
Please comment any questions you may have or use the “contact me” page! I’d be happy to answer any questions about how the spreadsheet works or talk through any budgeting questions you may have. I certainly am no financial expert, but I hope I can help in any way I know how! And let me know if this spreadsheet helps you! I’d love to hear your feedback and if there is anything you’d change or add!