One of the most popular ways to budget is using a piece of software that is probably already on your computer: a spreadsheet. While it’s not a budget, that’s what I use to keep track of net worth and my online income. It may seem like a low-tech solution compared to many of the personal finance desktop applications and online services out there, but a lot of customization can be done. To prove that point, here’s a pile of spreadsheets. Most are designed to work with Microsoft Excel, but I’m guessing that they’ll work with the free Open Office suite.
- Get Rich Slowly – J.D. lists four spreadsheets. His favorite is Pear Budget’s free one. There are three others there that come from his readers… meaning that you can’t get them anywhere else.
- Christian Personal Finance – Bob ups the anty with 10 more spreadsheets including one by Gather Little By Little. I like the wedding one myself
- It’s Your Money – Michael scoffs at Bob’s pitiful 10 and adds 35 more spreadsheets. Some of them are fairly specialized (which I consider a good thing, because 35 general spreadsheets could get boring)
- Budgets Are Sexy – They didn’t want to be left out of the budgeting fun, so they link to many other budget spreadsheets.
- Freebie Finding Mom – She’s got 3 printable budget worksheets to share.
Last, but not least, Erica from Erica.biz gives her 10 Minutes Budget Spreadsheet. She goes the extra mile and created a video:
There’s another video with more information on her website
Do you have a favorite spreadsheet? Did I miss some? Let me know in the commments.
Nice overview of spreadsheets. I should probably post mine up for people to use. Over the years I have distributed it to a number of my friends/family. What I like most about mine is that I take into account State and Federal tax into my budgeting (the IRS doesn’t really accept the excuse “I didn’t budget for taxes this year” if you don’t pay), as well as call out special one time expenses that I don’t like to put into my reoccurring budget as first class citizens (because it makes it hard to do year over year comparisons). Also, I attempt to budget not just for the current year, but I create estimated budgets that go 3-4 years out. This allows me to paint a financial picture over time and make smarter decisions not just for today, but for the longer term. Doing this also allows me to create different scenarios (what if I buy a big house vs. buy a little house or what will my budget look like if we have another child). Lazyman, if I ever get around to spiffing up my budget worksheet, would you post it for your users? I think you have seen early versions of it at one time or another.
Lazy Man says
I would love to post it up. I don’t think I ever got an early version, but I may have missed it.
If I post it maybe others will spiff it up for you like open source software.
Joseph Sangl says
There are over 75 free financial tools including budgets on my team’s site – http://www.josephsangl.com/tools
Thanks Lazy – with all these options, no one should have an excuse for not having a tool to budget with!
J. Money says
So you’re agreeing that budgets, are, indeed sexy yes?
Lazy Man says
I made up an Excel budget worksheet based on a paper one that’s included in the book “On My Own Two Feet” by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar.
It’s divided into three main categories: Future, Foundation and Fun, and then many subcategories inside each of those, including taxes, retirement savings, housing expenses, transporation expenses, utilities, etc. It’s done monthly and spans a one year period. It has worked out really well for me – I’ve never been so on top of my finances.
And this budget of mine? It’s sexy as all get out.
Erica Douglass says
Thanks for the link! I was hoping you’d find mine. I still use that system; it’s worked quite well for me.
Whatever people choose, I just hope they choose something. Any budgeting system that helps you understand where your money is going is better than nothing at all.
Michael - The Fat Loss Authority says
Damn, I really could’ve used some of these five years ago. The importance of tracking and measuring your budget cannot be under estimated.
Do it once and your learn invaluable things about your spending habits.
Personally, I use Excel for the household finances. I’ve been using Excel for 3 years. I can create my own template that suits my needs.