Free Budget Spreadsheet, Monthly Template – Tutorial

Free-Budget-Spreadsheet-Monthly-Template
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In one of my previous articles, I went over all the benefits of personal budgeting. With discipline and persistence, it can bring an immense level of prosperity.

The moral of that article is that having a personal budget is very beneficial for anyone. It’s a quality that all wealthy people master and a quality worth putting time into.

At the end of that article, I gave you all a free budget spreadsheet, monthly template. One that I personally like to use, but a lot more general.

I’ve recently helped some friends create a budget for themselves and they have told me how much it’s helped them to have this tool in use. A budget may seem simple but, really, it can be very challenging to maintain. I also gave the very same template to these friends.

They’ve told me how much it has helped them to keep a budget. They also told me that they’re experiencing the positive impacts of budgeting.

However, I realized that I needed to explain to them how to use the template and how to budget properly. This made me realize that a lot of you guys would probably need that help as well.

So, I decided to make this article to not only provide an automated-ish template but also provide you with instructions on how to use it properly.

I say “automated-ish” because I’ve placed all the formulas for you but you still need to manually enter your transactions.

On a side note, I personally prefer to do it manually but I’ll get into the reasoning behind that later in this article.

By the end of this article, you will fully understand how to properly use this template. You will also understand how to maximize its use to reap the benefits of budgeting.

How To Use a Budget

Budgets are very simple, you calculate your expected income, expenses, reimbursements, and any activity that you expect your money to perform for a specific time-frame. Throughout this time frame, your actual income, expenses, reimbursements, and any other activity are submitted to the budget. This time-frame is usually a month.

Certain people who have may require more or less time than a month. However, the usual frame tends to be a month. It’s the time-frame I use and it’s the template I provided for you all.

I like to separate budgets into four sections:

  1. In-person expenses (grocery store, bar, arcade, event, etc)
  2. Automatic Withdrawals (subscriptions, memberships, etc)
  3. Income (salary, dividends, interest, reimbursements)
  4. Savings (emergency fund, short-term savings, long-term savings, potential investments)

I separate my money into these sections to facilitate the process of entering my transactions into the budget.

How to apply these 4 sections to your budget

There are many ways in which you can submit transactions into your budget. You can choose to do it:

  • at the time of each transaction
  • at the end of each day
  • once a week
  • once a month

When it comes to in-person transactions (ie: going to the grocery store), I like to enter my transactions at the time of their occurrence. I do this so that I can feel the psychological factor of “losing money” as if I were using cash. I don’t like cash so, statistically speaking, I’m more likely to overspend when compared to someone who uses cash.

By submitting each transaction at the time of its occurrence, I can experience the same level of “loss” as someone who uses cash.

I’m aware that sometimes you can’t pull your phone out and submit a transaction at the time of its occurrence. However, in such cases, I simply make it a goal to submit the transaction at the end of each day.

So, how do you do this with automatic withdrawals (ie: gym membership, car payment, subscriptions)?

This is how I did it:

  1. I figured out when each withdrawal is due by checking my bank account regularly or simply checking the prior 3 months if they’re available.
  2. Once I figure out when the due dates are, I set a reminder on my phone for the day of each withdrawal.
  3. On the day of each withdrawal, I verify my bank account to ensure that the withdrawal was appropriately made. Sometimes people discover that whoever is making withdrawals from their bank account has been doing so incorrectly. Maybe they’re overcharging you or charging earlier every month, this is your chance to fix that.
  4. Once you verify the transaction in your bank account, you submit it to your budget.

When it comes to money coming in (income), simply calculate what you expect to receive for the month based on the salary you earn. If your income fluctuates month to month, calculate the average you made throughout the past 6 to 12 months.

If you’re starting a new line of work, simply submit what you expect to earn for the given time.

Then, whenever you receive your income, submit it to your budget on the day it occurs. You will be able to see whether your actual income, met, exceeded, or underperformed your expectations for the month.

Throughout this entire process, keep one thing in mind, your income must ALWAYS be greater than your expenses.

You might be thinking “obviously”, but statistics prove that this consept is something that the majority of America struggles to grasp.

Do NOT exceed your income with your expenses, even if you have a credit card. This is going to mean, cutting out those “treat yourself” expenses that are not essential to your life.

Then, ensure that you have enough left over for savings. If you don’t currently have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund, get to it with these savings.

To summarize, this is the process:

  1. Calculate expected income for the month
  2. Calculate expected expenses for the month
  3. Calculate expected savings based on income and mandatory expenses (cut out those “wants”)
  4. On the day of each paycheck, submit the actual income into your budget
  5. On the occurrence of each expense and saving transaction, submit the actual expense and saving into your budget. Do this in the designated section of the budget until you reach the end of the month.

This is the basic idea of how to submit your income, expenses, and savings into your budget.

Making your own Copy of the Template

Now, let’s get to the actual template.

When you click on my link to the budget template, you’ll realize that you won’t be able to edit it.

This is because I have this template on “View” mode so that nobody can edit it. Otherwise, whatever gets edited will be seeing by everyone on the template.

This is why you must make your own copy of the template. Once you have your copy, you will be able to edit it. No one will be able to see the information within it because it’s only your copy.

To make your copy you simply need to:

If you’re on a desktop:

  1. Click on “File” on the top left corner of the spreadsheet
  2. Click on “Make a Copy”
  3. Name your copy of the template (green)
  4. Click “OK” (red)

If you’re on mobile

  1. Download “Google Sheets” from your app store
  2. Log into your Google account
  3. Once you’re on this spreadsheet, click the 3 dots on the top right corner
  4. Click “Share & Export”
  5. Click “Make a copy”

Wallah! Now you have your very own copy of your budget template. Every month make another copy, either with this link or with the template you’ll already be using. If you choose to use the template that you’ll already be using, keep in mind that you will need to delete the information that will be copied onto your new template.

Submitting info into your budget

Within your budget template, I’ve entered the formulas necessary so that the calculations can be done for you. All you need to do is enter your information. The template will add your numbers for you.

On the “Projected” side, you will enter what you expect to earn, spend, and save:

But you will NOT need to touch this side of the template:

The formulas I’ve entered are in these sections. Submitting information in there will ruin your formulas.

The place where you will be entering your actual transactions will be here:

Enter the date on the left of that and the details of the transaction on the right.

Here’s an example:

I have separated each of these sections in the same order as the main budget section. To make things easier, I color-coded them the same so that you know which section is which.

I have also created a separate template for those who use credit. I keep my credit card and debit card expenses separate BUT I never let their sum exceed my total income. I treat the credit as if it’s part of my income, not an addition to it.

I never exceed 30% of my credit utilization. I always have a total of both, my credit and debit accounts, to be no more than what I expect to spend from my income for the rest of the month.

To use this template, all you need to do is submit the transactions done in credit under the “credit” section here:

And all you need to do with debit card expenses is to list them in the section above the “credit” section.

Here, I summarize the values of each (debit and credit are circled in red).

These numbers, together, should be equal to the total expenses you have for the month (circled in yellow).

The summary of your budget is done for you in the section titled “Budget Summary”. This is simply the conclusion of all your projected and actual income, expenses, and savings.

As said before, all these calculations are done for you, all you need to do is enter what you expect and then enter what actually happens into their designated sections.

Summary

Whatever way that you wish to enter your information is up to you. I have found it to be most effective to submit every single transaction at the time of its occurrence.

There have been times when I am not able to do that so I always keep the receipt(s). Then, at the end of the day I’ll pull them out and check my bank account to ensure the numbers are the same. Then I submit the transactions into my budget.

As I said earlier, I find this to be the most effective way of doing it because I feel the psychological pain of “losing” money. If I make this process automatic, I may not feel that psychological pain and may be prone to spending more, as statistics prove.

By doing this, I spend the same as if I had cash. I don’t overspend on my credit card and I end up saving more money.

People tend to prefer the automatic process but I prefer the manual process. Psychologically, it works better.

I hope this tutorial has helped you out with your financial endeavors. Maybe I’ve conviced you to choose a manual budget instead to help you avoid overspending.

If anyone has any questions or if I was not clear enough on some instructions, please comment them below. I’ll answer them and/or adjust this article to make it more clear.

If you have made a copy of your template and would like me to personalize it for your individual needs, please contact me at support@thenerdfinance.com. I know this template is very general and each person has individual expenses so they may not require all the sections listed here, or maybe you need different sections. Either way, let me know and I’ll be happy to help you.


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52 Comments

  1. It is very good that we have this monthly budget template, it’ll work help in a lot of ways, it’ll make you know how to minimize the amount you spend per month and also gives you a organized spending period. I love this, it’s very thoughtful of you to share, it’s what most of us needs.

    1. Absolutely! I’m glad to put it out there for the world! So many of us need something so simple like this. It’s crazy how much of an impact it has on our lives!

  2. Tha k you for sharing this. It makes the total sense to see here as it can really help a lot of ways to focus on what is right and just to see. I really appreciate your overview in here and it makes a total level of sense. Thank you so much for sharing this. If we can really make the right budget and stick to it, then the financial plan and journey can be a lot MORE easier on the overall. 

    1. Agreed!

  3. It’s really a good thing for me to learn about how to make a budget with this post you shared about this monthly budget spreadsheet. I think that it is very nice and it is also something that I would love to give a try. Like the way you have the information about how to create my own coy of the spreadsheet

    1. Of course, I’m happy to provide that for you! Whatever questions you might have, I’m here to answer them. Thank you for your feedback 🙂

  4. Budgets are really important tools in managing your finances and a great way of preventing overspending or budget deficit or financial ruin. Thank you for sharing this article with a free budget template which I’m sure will be especially useful to a lot of people who are not conversant enough with building a budget all by themselves 

    1. I’m always glad to help, this budget template will be the life-saver of many. Thank you so much for your feedback 🙂

  5. Many thanks to you for sharing your monthly budget spreadsheet tutorial with us. I have been thinking for a long time about how to create a monthly budget. I have found a complete solution through the spreadsheet from your article. I enjoyed it so I would like to share this tutorial on my social media if you agree with me.

    1. You’re more than welcomed to do that! I’m glad this was helpful 🙂 Thank you for the feedback

  6. Thank you for sharing this budgeting spreadsheet template and tutorial with us. I’ve recently started a monthly budget this year and it has helped out a lot. However, I’ve neglected one too many times to be persistent, diligent, and disciplined in checking it on a regular basis and updating it as well. So as you can imagine, that has caused a few financial issues. 

    1. Of course, and thank you for your feedback 🙂 yes, the lack of sticking to your budget tends to do that! I’m glad this article has served of some help to you 🙂

  7. This is awesome and I like the fact that I can copy your template. So, I did and I was able to customize it according to the needs of my family.

    I also keep my receipts and all expenses written down to help me keep track of my expenses. And it helps me also to reorganize my spending, to reduce what was not useful, and increase my savings.

    Thanks

    1. I’m very glad to hear this was helpful for you! Always great to see the template helping others. Thank you for your feedback 🙂

  8. Thank you for being a good tutor who has thought not just me, but others that creating a monthly budget spreadsheet is a useful way to keep track of all expenses and comparing them with our income so we can gain control over our finances.

    Budgeting is really an important tool we can use in managing our finances; we shouldn’t wait till we run at loss before we consider budgeting, Its not right!

    1. I fully agree. Budgeting is a crucial part of financial freedom and far too many people neglect it. They wait until after they’ve suffered the consequences of uncontrolled spending to actually look into it. It’s better to start before you have to suffer those consequences.about:blank#blocked

  9. I am so pleased that I came across this article, for years I’ve tried with not much success to maintain some kind of budget using sheets. This one seems very simple and I like that it can be directly used. Thank you for sharing! One of my challenges was really knowing what’s the best way to record things, I never really considered doing it daily as you mentioned .This would probably be a lot more beneficial to me and see my cash flow in more ‘real time’. This is a benefit as there’s less guess work with what I do and don’t have! Thanks so much.

    1. I’m very happy to hear that this was helpful for you! I appreciate the feedback 🙂 Let me know if you ever have any individual questions 

  10. Hi Misael. 

    Thank you for sharing this monthly budget spreadsheet. I have been looking for the best budget template till I come across your post today.

    As I am at the age of 40s, I need to change my finance mindset so I can reduce my limit of spending and increase more savings with this spreadsheet. 

    1. Yessir! Mindset is the first step to changing your financial circumstances for the better! I’m glad this has been helpful to you! Let me know if you need any help using the spreadsheet!

  11. I love this article. Let me tell you why. I have this piece of plain paper that I put 4 lines on it representing 4 months with all my bills needed to pay. Then, when time to pay those bills or when a withdrawal is made, I simply check it off with a red ink pen. Whatever is left is mine to spend. I don’t think my method is that bad but yours is much better. Mine is time consuming. Your article is helpful where everything is on a spread sheet. I knew about it but never did set it up. I now have the template from your website and I’ll put it to use. You always have good and useful information. Thanks.

    1. Wow! I’m very happy to hear that this was an upgrade from your previous method! If you ever need help with adjusting your personal spreadsheet, let me know by emailing me support@thenerdfinance.com and we can arrange something for me to be fix up your template! I’m happy to hear this has been helpful

  12. This is a really detailed explanation of how to use the budget spreadsheet and monthly template. Thanks for this well-explained tutorial that guides us step by step!
    I’m writing my income and expenses in a simpler version of Excel for now, but I like your proposal so much that I’ll take the time to prepare a new monthly template.
    I’m glad your friends found it very helpful when you share this budget spreadsheet with them. I hope this article will be found by as many people as possible who will also benefit from your excellent tutorial.
    I wish you all the best
    Nina

    1. Thank you Nina 🙂 glad to hear it was helpful

  13. Hello there, Misael! This is a great post! A budget spreadsheet is something that I think most people often overlook. When doing one, it really helps one to keep track of their expenses. I really feel sorry for those individuals who spend so much without realizing how much they spent until they get a call, letter, or something about their leftover funds. That’s really awesome that you input all expenses right away, this will ensure that you will not have anything missing. Thanks for providing a template for the budget sheet.

    1. Absolutely 🙂 and I’m glad to hear this was helpful and I agree, I also sympathize for those who do not track their expense and end up spending more than they can afford

  14. Thank you so much for sharing the free budget spreadsheet with the easy monthly template. A spreadsheet is a great way to keep up with personal finances and to manage progress versus goals. As the tax filing deadline is approaching for the year, this is perfect time to start with a new system that can keep track of everything that is being spent!

    1. I absolutely agree! 

  15. Hello again Misael. My father likes to say that I’m an administrative disaster. I tend to live without much planning. I’m more of a “play it by ear” kind of person. But I also know that planning and recording things is valuable for goal achievement. For example, people who want to lose weight and keep track of their meals are more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. Also, people who write to-do lists are also more likely to follow through with them.

    “What gets written down gets done” – Is what Robin Sharma would say.

    I’ve resisted starting a budget for years. I’ll download the spreadsheet and give it a go!

    1. Hey Erick. Heck yeah! Let me know how it goes! 

  16. This is a wonderful idea!  Currently I have a notebook and I write down each months expenses, and money coming in.  Then I have a budget for what I spend and what I save.  I like this free budget spreadsheet.  No more handwriting.  I don’t know why I did not think to do this sooner.  Thank you!

    1. Of course 🙂 I’m glad it could help!

  17. Hi Misael. I enjoy reading your content very much. It’s educational and easy to follow. And specifically, for this post, thank you for the free spreadsheet. Since this year begun, I have laid some goals that involve saving. So I need to place careful atention on what comes in and what goes out. Your spreadsheat will aid me with this.

    1. Very happy to hear that it’ll help you with that goal! Thanks for surfing around 🙂

  18. Hi Misael, Budgeting is perhaps the most important first step in financial planning. I ran a financial advisory practice in the UK for a while. It never ceased to amaze me just how bad some people are with budgeting and often the more money people were earning the worse off they were. Some of the middle to high earners were very out of control with a resultant net worth less than others on a far lower income. Convincing such people that budgeting was a practice they would benefit from if they took it seriously was always frustrating. You have provided an excellent resource here. Thank you.

    1. That’s honestly very interesting to hear from someone who has experienced firsthand working with all kinds of people like that. I have seen and read about reports of people who make less end up being more financially stable than those who earn more, all because of their positive money management habits

      Seeing your experience only enforces that further

  19. Thank you not just for the important information, but also for the spreadsheet itself.

    It is such an important thing to do.  Some people would say essential.  But so many of us never do it.  How many of us spend and hope for the best!!

    Your step by step instructions make it really easy to follow and use.

    I love the idea of instant access on my phone, so I always know where I stand.

    This is great.  No excuses for overspending now.

    1. I’m very happy to hear that this has been helpful! Thank you for your feedback 🙂 Let me know what your experience with it is

  20. What a helpful budget template for the world! I never knew something like this exists anywhere. I sometimes cannot imagine how I overspend and get worried because I quickly run out of cash before the payout. If I had got this budget template, I wouldn’t have had this problem with my daily finances. So, I really value what you shared in this post and would like to thank you for helping others control their spending through an ideal saving plan. Thanks.

    Joyce

    1. Absolutely!

  21. It is great to have access to this spreadsheet as it will make it so much easier to track my spending and make sure that I am within my budget for the month. To make sure that one does not overspend and go into debt, it is very important to have a monthly budget. I prefer entering my purchases and spending on a daily basis, otherwise I am worried that I might forget about it and loose track. 

    1. I agree! I’m the same way haha

  22. If I were into spread sheets and following budgets this way, I would love this! However, as a sixty something year old I find this very burdensome. 

    That’s not to say this is not good, it’s just not for me. I love how you explain everything and even take visitors through a visual for each step which would come in very handy for someone like me!

    My only suggestion, and again it’s just because I’m a dinosaur, is to not begin the article with the image of the large spreadsheet at the top of the page. When I first saw that, I thought, yikes! But, I’m sure many tech savvy people would not be intimidated by that, so that’s entirely up to you.

    I think many people will find your website very valuable and descriptive! I hope you do not take offense to these suggestions. All in all I think your website is very practicle and set up in a very logical way.

    1. I really appreciate the feedback and your suggestion! And hey, it’s not for everyone. Some might just prefer something more simple. No worries at all, I always like feedback whether it’s negative or positive

  23. Hey Misael, I have to say that I really loved this post! I’m currently living in a college dorm and never really lived on my own. (Paying rent, groceries, health insurance etc) So this post will be extremely useful for me once I transition to living on my own. And thanks for the step by step tutorial on making the budget template. Do you have any budget templates for business like investing or real estate?

    1. Of course! And unfortunately no 🙁 but I’ll add it to my to-do list!

  24. Wow, I really need help with personal finance and this is exactly what I was looking for.  Creating a budget always seems so daunting starting out that I’m glad to now have a personal finance calculator where I can store everything.

    Thanks for the Free Calculator!  I’ll be using this for years to come!

    1. Of course! Stay tuned for my educational content!

  25. Misael, I absolutely needed this guide! I just shared the link to the free budget spreadsheet monthly template with my bf. We are going to use it! Thank you so much for sharing! Who would say you would be able to find something like this online! Such a useful tool to track and plan your life!  THANK YOU

    1. Heck yeah! That’s awesome 🙂 I’m happy this was helpful!

  26. Hi there Misael, 

    Thanks for this template, it is going to go a long way for me.

    I have always wanted something to live by in terms of budgeting and the fact that you not only provide a free template for everyone to make a copy of but also offer to personalize according to someone’s needs is awesome.

    I am going to take a closer look at my copy and see areas where I need more customization and I will definitely hit you up. Cheers!

    1. Cheers my friend!

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