If you have an unlimited amount of moolah, I give you full permission to skip this post.
BUT, if you’re like Ken and Anne and have a set income, let’s talk budgeting (my apologies for saying the “b” word). Especially if you’re like Ken and Anne and that set income is, well, not very large.
Let me give a little bit of a preface before we dive in completely (keep taking those deep breaths).
So, Kenny and I come from very different monetary backgrounds. That is not at all a bad thing, but we knew that this would make our marriage…interesting…so we decided to be proactive about our finances. We wanted a way that we could track our expenses and income, make a budget, and see how much we spent monthly in each category in our budget.
Inserting completely unrelated picture. Ken was entirely on board.
I searched high and low on the internet to find such a magical spreadsheet, and, while I know there must have been one that met my strict criteria, I could not find it. So I put on my big-girl pants and decided to make my own. That was a scary thought, though, because I had not exercised my spreadsheet skills since I learned them in sixth grade math class. I’m a writer for a reason, guys.
But it had to be done, since I knew it was either that or being like “YAYYY! WE HAVE MONEY!!! WE CAN BUY STUFF AND THINGS!!!” after which we’d surely enter into a spiral of debt and die.
So I created this nifty little Google Doc Spreadsheet.
Let me explain some of the nifty features that it has…and then we’ll get to the link where you can download this for your own personal use. I know you’re excited, but hold your horses for just a minute.
First, this is a year-long expense tracking spreadsheet using the Google Drive platform. If you have a Gmail account, you have access to Drive. And the great thing about Google Drive is that you can share the document with other people, so if you want to keep your husband in the loop, say, you can share this document with him. Kenny and I both use the same document and it helps us keep track of each other’s spending (since we share bank accounts but aren’t with each other 24/7).
I made it to be a year long, but each month has a separate sheet where the budget starts afresh. All you have to do is plug in your budget in January (in the yellow cells) and the rest of the year will automatically update to those numbers. But don’t fret–if your budget changes in March, you can manually override the budget numbers as well.
To use the spreadsheet after you’ve plugged in your budget in January, all you do is type in the date of the income or expense in column A and then put in the number under the correct category (which, BONUS: you can customize the categories to fit your needs). There’s a place for a description for each expense if you want to add it too.
The spreadsheet will automatically calculate how much you’ve spent in that category, how much you’ve spent overall, and how much you’ve saved (aka, the amount of income you have left after expenses).
DISCLAIMER: Consult your doctor…ahem, spouse, before beginning any budget program. Also, this is a very simple spreadsheet. But it is great for people like us who don’t have very complicated finances and want a place to track expenses month to month. Be sure to keep an eye on your overall financial health as you use this sheet.
Here’s the link where you can download your own copy…or if you already have a way to track your expenses/budget, spill in the comments. Oddly enough, budgeting is one of my favorite things, so let’s talk. Oh, and for other posts on saving money/spending money wisely (one of my passions), click here.
March 20, 2013 at 9:53 am
You are great. So is Kenneth.
March 20, 2013 at 10:14 am
This post has only validated my feeling that you and I may be twins separated at birth. Never mind that our births must be more than a decade apart. And from mothers who never met. I’m not into details, really.
Eric and I also have a slightly over-zealous approach to budgeting. The first few years of our marriage were not so smooth in this area, but we had two incomes and no children to strain the situation. Luckily we got our acts together just before the kids were born. We went though a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class, and it changed everything for us. I am thankful every day!
We use Crown Financial Ministries budgeting software, which we use to track every penny. Every. Penny. Knowing that there’s going to be a giant red number in the list when I overspend makes me far more cautious when I shop.
I think those are all my thoughts for the day. Way to budget, Anne!
March 20, 2013 at 10:25 am
YES. Flee from that red number! I’ve heard great things about Crown but have never explored it…and I went through a FPU class here at work and loved every minute.
March 20, 2013 at 10:55 am
That is a really great spreadsheet. It looks very well thought out and easy to use! I plan and track my monthly bills (Rent, Savings, Utilities, etc.) in a simple spreadsheet and I give myself a weekly cash allowance for everything else (food, gas, shopping, entertainment). Leftover cash at the end of the week goes in the back of my wallet to save for the weeks when I need a little extra.
I found it works best to give myself a fairly generous cash allowance. Trying to get by on the smallest allowance possible usually backfired for me. I would routinely run out of cash, end up using my credit card for “emergencies”, and then be frustrated when I got my credit card bill.
March 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Thanks, Crystal! And great point on your generous cash allowance advice!
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