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Google Sheets is a great way to share any spreadsheet, but it shines for a budget spreadsheet. You can share it, copy it, and improve it. You can use an off the shelf budget template or you can do your own monthly budget. Best of all, Google Sheets is free for anyone to use and is simplified for a personal budget compared to a Microsoft Excel budget spreadsheet.

Keepify has created a Google Sheets budget template that anyone can use for their own budget planner. Use the download links to get started or see below for our budget spreadsheet setup how-to.

Contents

Does Google Sheets have its own template for monthly budgeting?

Indeed it does. There is a stock monthly budget template and a stock annual budget template.

These templates have not generally captured the love of the budgeting community but they are ways to get started and that is the most important thing. These templates will handle the basic functions you need for budgeting but they don’t provide any constraints and they don’t yield much insight.

Will this budget spreadsheet work on my computer?

If your computer can run a modern web browser like Internet Explorer (IE), Chrome, Safari, or Firefox then absolutely! This is very likely. In fact, this will probably work on your phone!

Using your phone can be a great way to update or track spending at the time and place it happens.

Best free Google Sheets budget templates

Of course, we think our template we have linked for you to use with the buttons on this page is a great choice for a monthly budget template, we also know there are many other great templates out there.

You may wonder “What is the best budget spreadsheet?”

The easy answer is, “whichever one you’ll use.” There’s more about how to use our template specifically below if you want a jumpstart or are unfamiliar with budgeting or spreadsheets.

RISECredit has a great list of 17 free budget templates for Google sheets.

The Frugal Gene has a Google Sheets budget template that improves upon the basic one provided by Google Sheets.

There’s a great template from a redditor that covers your bases.

20somethingfinance also has a template with a guide that can help you get started.

Can a budget spreadsheet ease financial woes?

The short answer is yes. While the spreadsheet itself is no talisman or lucky rabbit’s foot for financial problems it is a tool that works to plan your personal finances. Properly planned finances are low stress.

Again, there is no silver bullet. There is no get rich quick scheme. This is a process that will free you from financial woes if applied with some consistency for your life. Budgeting is the tooth brushing of personal finance. You can get by without doing it sometimes. You can try new tools. But if you neglect it long enough, you’re in for expense and pain.

In the end, learning to budget is cheaper and easier. And we want to help. Financial woes suck.

Anyone have a debt reduction spreadsheet that can deal with promotional rates?

We’re working on one we like. We don’t see a good one to link, but if you want ours send us an email. If you know of a great one that exists, please send it our way.

Budget spreadsheet setup

How do you create a budget template in Google Sheets?

The easiest way to get started budgeting is to pick a template from the sections above and modify it to suit your needs.

If you really want your own Google Sheets budget template then I’d suggest starting very simple. Look at a few Google Sheets budget template setups you like and start with those types of layouts. There’s usually a place for expenses (which we cover below) and sometimes these are separated into fixed expenses — think rent, utilities, cell phone bill, internet, car payment, etc. — and variable expenses — think restaurants, new shoes, and credit card bills.

Finally, you will usually see a summary sheet that will take the list of expenses and put them into categories so you can understand where your money is going.

How do you setup a spending spreadsheet?

You need four columns to track spending in a spreadsheet whether you make a place to tally and categorize or visualize all that spend or not.

You need the merchant or payee. You need the amount paid. You need the category of the spending. And finally, you need to track the date of the spend. The date will make a lot of useful spreadsheet options open up. If you only need to track spending closely, this can be your budget template if you add a pivot table to track spend by date and category.

What is the difference between budgeting and tracking spend?

Budgeting is the act of planning out your spend. You want to know how much money you expect to earn and then plan out in which categories you need and want to spend that money.

Some spending is discretionary spending or it’s money that you could ultimately spend however you like. This includes things like savings and buying a movie ticket or a coffee.

Fixed costs are costs that both rarely change a lot — though electricity costs may change seasonally — and more importantly for personal budgets aren’t something you can skip. You have to pay your rent and utilities.

There’s a lot more work to do in budgeting for discretionary spend than fixed costs or expenses, but it’s important to know both. Fixed costs like rent or debts can be your biggest impediments to financial goals. They are often the biggest part of the budget which means they’re also the place you could choose to save the most.

Tracking spend is not the same as budgeting. Tracking spend is just keeping a tally or sum of your spending as the months go by. A tool like Mint or Personal Capital will help you do this automatically. It will even use algorithms to automatically categorize your spending into buckets like Restaurants, Gas, and Groceries.

The key difference between tracking spend closely and budgeting is the forethought and planning. Tracking spending is looking at what happened. Budgeting is a plan for what will happen.

To be an effective household budget, you’ll have to change the budget to adapt to spending. Maybe there’s an item you forgot to add. Maybe you have a flat tire. Or maybe you just didn’t realize how important a lunch out on Fridays was to you. This is normal. Budgets put us in the position of predicting the future which no one can really do. But they’re still great tools for forcing you to make intentional choices about where your money goes.

Alternatively, checkout this tutorial and template from Easy Budget Blog.

Monthly budgeting

Should you increase retirement savings?

You should plan to save between 10% and 15% of your income for retirement throughout your career. The earlier you start, the less you can get away with saving through the years. The less time and money you have now, the more you need to save to catch up.

We have a simple calculator for retirement and a simple savings calculator on the same page. If you know how much income you need in retirement, how long until you want to retire, and approximately how much money you have now you can get a good idea of how much you need to save each year.

You should always aim to save in tax advantaged vehicles first like an IRA or a 401K. We believe you should prioritize any opportunity for company matching funds first of all. This is a common feature of 401K retirement plans and it is what it sounds like. Companies frequently match your investment dollar for dollar up to a certain percentage of income.

What is a budget plan?

A budget plan is an agreement on where your money should go. It is flexible. The Prussian  general von Moltke is credited with saying that ‘no plan of battle survives first contact with the enemy.’ Mike Tyson put it even more simply, ‘everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’

Your budget plan is what you would like to do with your income and cash flow, but things will change and you will want to adapt your plan to meet your financial goals.

Learn more about family budget planning from Discover’s article on 50-30-20 budgets.

How to pay bills with an irregular income?

Most of the normal budgeting advice applies with a couple small tweaks and a little extra discipline. Irregular income means you have some lean months and some fat ones. That’s OK, but it means those months with extra must generate savings to pay for months with less.

You will need to maintain conservative spending habits to make sure those savings are in place for the lean months. In addition to that conservative streak, you should consider having a larger emergency fund than most people. Typical advice is to keep $1000 on hand if you’re paying down debts and 3-6 months of expenses in reserve in normal times. Folks with irregular incomes should look at the 6-9 month range of savings.

We know that’s a tremendous amount of savings, but the journey of a thousand miles here begins with small steps. Save $500 or $1000. Sell things. Get an extra gig. Save up for an extra month’s expenses. Rinse repeat. And don’t forget that chaos will happen and set you back from time to time, but that’s the plan. The point is that chaos won’t cause you stress and debt if you have the reserves to account for it.

Microsoft Excel budget spreadsheets

We have Excel versions of each monthly budget template we offer, our specialty ones like the wedding budget, and our annual one, too!

What are budgeting worksheets and budget spreadsheets?

Budget worksheets are typically PDFs or printed paper sheets that are designed for pen and paper budgeting. They’re flexible, simple, and quick to get going. The problem with budget worksheets is all the math that you need to do and then check for correctness.

Budget spreadsheets are pieces of software that runs on your computer, tablet, and even your phone. Spreadsheets were the first killer app of early computers (the Apple II in this case) and the first one was called VisiCalc. Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are the most common spreadsheet tools out there.

Spreadsheets are more complex to set up and can be intimidating, but they handle the maths for you and they don’t make mistakes in calculating sums once set up correctly. They take a lot of drudgery out of your family budget planner.

Spreadsheets also allow you to take your budget data and make charts or graphs to visualize the information easily.

How do you organize a budget spreadsheet?

You need three elements to properly manage a budget with a spreadsheet.

  1. Categories and planned spending
  2. Tracking spending
  3. Visualizing planned versus actual spending

This may be done all on one sheet or in several. You may have an annual budget and a sheet for each month in the same spreadsheet design.

What should be included in a budget spreadsheet?

See the section above or check out the templates below.

Does Microsoft Excel have a budget template?

You bet!

You can check out our Excel budget templates or scope a great list from Wallet Hacks.

More about this Keepify Google Sheets template

This template organizes things into a 50/30/20 structure with guidelines on spending. You pick how you divide your money between immediate spending needs and longer term goals. You’ll be amazed how quickly keeping track of your money will change your spending habits. If you want a budget that includes some ability to track transactions and total expenses as you go, you should check out our zero based budget template. It will provide you with exactly what you want.

We’ve got a number of other budget worksheets and monthly budget template tools on our main budget template page.

How to use this Google Sheets budget template for budgeting

Income

As you open the Google sheets template, you will see the annual income in the top-left corner. Start there. And if you are unsure of your take home pay, the template makes it easy to calculate your taxes. Just enter your pre-tax income, and choose filing single or jointly. It will then give you a post-tax estimate. But if you already know it, just enter that number in the post-tax estimate cell and you’ll be good to go.

Google Sheets budget template income field how to

If you have a variable income, look at the past  3-12 months and pick a conservative income number to build your budget around. This will serve as your base budget to pay your priority items, like housing and utilities, food, and transportation. Then when you are bringing in additional income, you can spend money on the items further down your priority list.

This will work best for you if all of your income is included, so if you have any side hustles, make sure they are in the budget.  

Expenses

After your income is finalized, start entering your expenses. The template includes the most common expenses most people have. If you have anything else, just enter it in the cells at the bottom of expenses. And if you don’t spend anything on one of the default categories, just delete it or leave it blank.

Google Sheets budget template example usage

If you are unsure of your expenses, or how much you spend in each category, look at your bank statements from the past few months. This will give you a better idea of what you are spending and perhaps it will help you to see if you are spending too much on non-essential items you can cut out of your life, even if it’s just temporarily.

And as you are entering your expenses, you will notice another helpful tool of this template. It will track the percentage you are spending in each category. So if you are trying to keep your housing expenses below a certain percent of your income, this will show you how you are doing toward that goal.   

If you are unsure what should go in each category, just reference the spending guidelines with examples of what should go in each category. Beyond that, it also calculates savings, needs, and wants while making it easy to insert personal financial goals.

What about a small business budget template?

We don’t specifically have a small business budget template nor a business budget template. We don’t have a marketing budget template either.

There are many options for that around the web.

We will say that business and marketing budgeting has some elements that personal and household budgets do not. Business and marketing budgets need to be driven by strategy and business realities like the Cost to Acquire a Customer or CAC and Customer Lifetime Value or CLV.

The strategic part of financial business planning is called FP&A or Financial Planning and Analysis. The budgeting part for businesses is after you analyze what you should be spending where in order to generate the most efficient revenue for the company.

Needless to say, these activities are different from personal budgeting.

Do you have an event budget template?

We have a wedding budget template and you could adapt it to work for many other events.

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS FOR BUDGETING SUCCESS

1.    Check-in on your budget at least weekly

You can’t just set it and forget it when it comes to your budget, especially in the beginning. Check in weekly to see how you are doing and remember that it is okay to adjust at any time. Just make sure your budget and your actual spending habits are aligned.

2.    Build up a small emergency fund of $1000 to start and work towards 6 months expenses.

A recent survey found that just 40% of Americans would be able to cover an unexpected emergency without having to go into debt. Do not be like the 60%. If you don’t have any money saved, start today with a goal of saving $1,000. After you hit that goal, extend it to 6 months of savings. Because we never know when life will happen.

3.    Use fewer budget categories

The Google Sheets template includes spending guidelines to help you get started with each category. Use that as a reference and you will make budgeting easier with fewer categories.

4.    Call to consolidate your billing dates

By consolidating your billing dates, your bill money would come out of your account at the same time so you won’t spend it on anything else. This is a great tool to help you stay disciplined.

5.    Use cash stuck in envelopes for discretionary categories like eating out so when you’re out, you’re out. Or use a budgeting app you can share with your partner.

A great way to help you spend within your budget is by using cash. It is no secret that it is easier to use a card, but there is a certain amount of pain when it comes to cash. After you have decided what will be in each category, put that cash in an envelope. And when the envelope is empty, you know you are out of money for the month. At the same time, you won’t feel bad about spending money on discretionary items because you have the money set aside for those purchases.

6.    Put all your banking, retirement, etc. into fewer accounts at fewer companies

Many people try to make finances more complicated than it has to be. One way to make things easier, and a good way to save valuable time, is by having fewer accounts at fewer companies.

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Personal budgeting software for modern mobile and web
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1 Comment ADD COMMENT

12 August 2020 at 2:39

[…] it is simple enough to make a basic budget for a startup using a Google Sheets budget template, and it makes sense to plot this out month by month, as well as looking ahead to plan annual […]

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