There are a myriad of different tools that you can use to create a budget, but in this chapter, we’ll be going over how to use a budget template. A budget template is a customizable worksheet that can help you manage your budget by keeping track of all your living expenses.
A budget template is an easy way to calculate your finances to see if you’re on track with your spending. But rather than having to create an entire budget yourself, a budget template gives you the outline and all you have to do is fill in the blanks with your budget specifications.
In this series, we’ve been going over everything there is to know about budgeting, like what to include in a budget and how to use Mint to create your budget, but this chapter will focus mainly on how to use a budget sheet template.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss the different types of budget templates, what the benefits of using a budget template are, when you should start using a budget template, and more. To learn more about how a personal budget template can simplify your budgeting, continue reading the chapter or use the links below to skip to a section of your choice.
What Is a Budget Template?
A budget template is a customizable worksheet where you can input your own budget information to suit your personal financial needs. It’s a very helpful tool and can be used to get your finances together and stay on top of your spending to avoid landing in a budget deficit.
With a budget template, you’ll insert your total income and list out all of your expenses, like how much you spend on rent, groceries, and other necessities for living. You’ll then subtract the expenses from your total income.
You may be left with some discretionary income, which is basically how much money you have left over, which you can put in savings or use it towards additional expenses, like if you want to buy a new car or save for a house.
Types of Budget Templates
Depending on what phase of life you’re in, you’ll want to use a budget template that’s catered to your situation. For instance, college students may have a completely different budget than a newly married couple.
Click below for the free budget template that matches your lifestyle
Click here to download the XLS file free budget template.xls.
There are a variety of free budget templates available to suit your needs, whether it’s for college students, parents with children in daycare, single-income households, and so forth. Choosing the one that fits your lifestyle is crucial to help you develop a clear understanding of how your take-home pay covers all your expenses.
Benefits of Using a Budget Template
Creating a budget might not exactly sound like the most enjoyable task in the world, but it’s a necessary part of keeping your finances in order, and keeping you out of mounting debt. There are many benefits of using a simple template for budgeting, such as:
- You know how you’re spending your money: Rather than swiping your credit card and not giving that charge a second thought, a budget template helps to make you more aware of how you’re spending your money so you can see if/where you need to cut back. You can also use a budget to make a financial plan so you can stay on top of your goals.
- It helps you stay organized: It’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to finances, but a budget template is a great way to keep your finances in one place. With a personal budget template, you know exactly where your expenses are listed, which makes it easier to do things like budget for groceries.
- You have a plan for the month: A budget template is a great way to help you create a plan for the month before it even starts. Maybe you have a trip coming up that you need to put aside some extra money for. A budget template will make it obvious where you can cut back on so that you have enough to cover your anticipated travel expenses for the month.
- It makes creating a budget easier: Rather than having to make a budget from scratch each month, a budget template does the hard part for you. With a budget sheet template, all you have to do is fill in your personal information and you’ll be on your way to tracking your spending.
Learning how to budget can be hard, but using a budget template makes the process a whole lot easier. Once you get the hang of using a budget template, it’ll become second nature to you, and you’ll have no problem filling out your budget at the start of each month.
Preparing to Use Your Budget Template
If you’ve already tried starting a budget and keep running into obstacles, perhaps it’s time to start looking at the fundamentals. It only takes a misstep or two to turn your detailed budget into a total mess. Below are some helpful budgeting tips to help you come up with a functional budget to keep your finances healthy:
Know Exactly How Much You Really Bring in
The answer here isn’t simply your annual salary, nor dividing that number by 12 equal parts for each month. What you should really be basing your budget on is your actual take-home pay each month.
For instance, if you make $50,000 annually as a salar –or around $4,200 per month–you need to take into account your income tax, benefits, pension plan, and other costs that you’re paying that get docked off your monthly checks.
Because of all these other hidden expenses, using $4,200 as a basis for your budget really isn’t accurate. It’s probably closer to $3,000, and maybe even less. It’s crucial that you know exactly how much is coming in every month, because that’s the figure you’ll be basing your budget around.
Using a free budget template can help you easily keep tabs on your finances.
Get a Handle on Accurate Numbers When it Comes to Monthly Spending
It’s best to work with real numbers when coming up with a solid budgeting plan. This involves keeping every receipt after every purchase, and tallying up how much you’re really spending. Your first budget essentially reflects how much you’re spending on average every month.
In addition to regular bills, don’t forget to include all your irregular spending too, such as:
- Driver’s license renewals
- Property taxes
- Car registration
- Property insurance
These bills should really be planned for throughout the year, and not necessarily considered ‘surprise’ expenses.
Make Sure You Have Some Wiggle Room for Surprise Expenses
Life happens–and when life happens, you can get hit with a lot of unexpected expenses. Maybe you need to add on a new monthly expense to your budget, maybe you’re moving and you need to adjust your cost of living, or maybe you need to account for an emergency.
Whatever the situation may be, it’s imperative to have some wiggle room in your budget in the case of a surprise expense. You don’t ever want to cut it too close so that if something happens, you have to dip into your savings to pay for it. It’s important to try to leave some extra room in your budget for the unexpected.
Have an Easy-To-Use Budgeting Tool on Hand
If you’re starting off your budget it’s good to know that there are a myriad of options available, like envelope budgeting or a budgeting app.
All of these options will cause you to more than likely throw in the towel when it comes to keeping up with your budget. Your first budget should really be easy to manage and keep up with to help you get a handle on your finances.
Using a simple, free budget template is recommended, which is basically like an online version of the paper-and-pencil type. While there are a number of great options out there, many of them can become too complicated–the more confused you are about the tool you’re using, the less likely you’ll keep up with your budget because it’s “just too complicated.” Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, stick to simple tools, especially when you’re just starting out.
When Should You Start Using a Budgeting Template?
A budgeting template can benefit anyone, and it’s never too early to start using one. The sooner you start to use a budget, the easier it’ll be to manage your monthly finances, plan for the future, and pay yourself first.
So what are you waiting for? Start using a monthly budget template today and improve your financial health now and in the future.
A Free Budget Template Awaits You at Mint.com
For help setting up a budget to track your spending, Mint.com makes it easy for you. This online tool offers a number of budget templates to suit your lifestyle, and gathers all your financing accounts into one convenient place. It even allows you to streamline your budgeting efforts, giving you total visibility of your income and spending so you can easily and quickly see exactly what’s happening in all areas of your finances. The best part? It’s completely FREE! Visit Mint.com to get started budgeting your finances today!
In the previous chapters in the series, we discussed various personal financial tips and how you can stay on top of your finances by budgeting. We’re familiar with some of the budgeting tools you can use to create a budget, like with a budgeting app or a free budget template, but in the next chapter in the series, we’ll be going over the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, which is another helpful tactic for you to organize your finances.
Chapter 07: Using the 50-30-20 Rule to Budget
Chapter 05: How to Create a Budget in Mint