Building a budget doesn’t have to mean adjusting to a life of limitations. By improving your money management, you can focus on making sure your money is working for you. That means spending more on the things you want while being in control so you can meet your long-term financial goals.
The right spreadsheet and budgeting technology can help you create and keep track of your financial budget. You don’t have to invest a lot of money in complicated and confusing financial technologies. Read on to learn about some simple personal budget management tools that can help you.
How Money Management Helps You Achieve Your Financial Goals
You likely have some financial goals in your life, whether it be improving your net worth, repaying your student loan, or achieving FIRE (financial independence, early retirement). Perhaps you have smaller, short-term goals, such as saving up for your dream wedding or buying a luxury car. Smart money management can help you achieve these goals.
Many people assume that effective money management means scrounging, saving, and never enjoying life. The truth is, it is not sustainable (or comfortable) to lead a life of constantly saying «no» to yourself. Instead, consider trying a conscious spending plan. Following this logic, categorize your expenses into essential fixed costs, important investments, savings goals and – last but not least – debt-free expenses.
By allocating space in your budget for the fun things (minus the blame), you will be more likely to stick to that budget. By pinpointing your money dials – the things you really love to spend money on – you can prioritize your spending in a way that makes sense to you. Money dials could include things like fitness, convenience, luxuries, travel, self improvement, and social status.
Being mindful of spending money is a great way to enjoy life while building a financially secure future. However, an organization is required. You need to start on a bulletproof budget and divide all of your expenses into one of these four categories: fixed expenses, investments, savings, and debt-free expenses. You then need to decide how much money you want to allocate to each bucket. After all, you need to actually stick to your plan.
Spreadsheets and budgeting tools can help every step of the way. Simple spreadsheets can help you create your conscious spending plan. You can then use a budgeting app to help you stick to it by, for example, automating your expense tracking. The point of these tools is to make money management easier so you can think less about your money, no more.
3 budget table templates to get you started
The thought of creating a budget table can be intimidating. Does that mean you have to master complex financial formulas? Not at all. When it comes to budget templates, it is best to keep them simple, and there are plenty of easy-to-use tools to save you time and stress. The goal is to use tools that will allow you to spend fewer hours on your money management. Here are a few highlights.
Budget templates for Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is not just about complex formulas. These free budget templates are an easy way to get an overview of your cash flow (monthly expenses vs. monthly income). There are even special templates like a monthly personal budget, college budget, house building budget, and event planning budget. If you have the Microsoft Office suite, you can access these Excel templates for free.
Google Sheets budget templates
Google Sheets offers another method of budgeting. If you have a Google Account, you can access free weekly, monthly, and yearly budget templates. There are also budget calculators to help you comply with your chosen budgeting rule, such as the 50/20/30 rule (which says 50% of your budget goes for essential fixed and variable expenses, 20% for savings and debt, and 30% to the rest).
The Federal Trade Commission’s Budget Worksheet
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers another handy budgeting tool. The free budget table can be downloaded as a PDF and contains a list of suggested budget categories for income and expenses – all you have to do is enter the dollar amounts. The formula at the end (deduct expenses from income) gives a picture of your financial health and can help you figure out how to better manage your money.
You can use the tools above to create a conscious spending plan. Budgeting apps and tools can then help you put that plan into action. Again, look for simple technology to streamline your efforts and save you time and energy.
Here are some of the best budgeting apps to help you automate money management and give you more control over your cash so you can reach your financial goals while thinking less about them.
Set up automated payments through your banking apps
Start by making the most of all of your bank’s technical features. Most banks offer apps that are linked to your checking account and credit card so you can automatically track expenses. You can also automate payments by, for example, depositing a set amount of cash each month to save money. Automation is a great psychological trick that will help you take control of your finances.
If you like having all of your financial data on hand, Mint is worth a look. You can track expenses, monitor subscriptions, create custom budgets, and much more. You can link all of your bank accounts, including investments, so you have a quick overview of the finances. If you want to have all of your financial planning tools in one convenient place, Mint is a solid choice. This article provides more details.
You need a budget (YNAB)
YNAB is ideal for people who want to pay off debts or achieve savings goals. It helps you spend smarter with tools like budgeting, goal tracking, and reports (including visual graphs and charts). The app also offers personal support including weekly free live Q&A sessions.
Financial freedom can be found beyond spreadsheets
You don’t have to be a personal finance guru or professional budget planner to create a working household budget. The above spreadsheets and tools make it easy for you to take control of your finances and implement conscious spending habits that work for you. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a tool to help you get where you want to be financially while making sure you don’t miss out.
The goal is to create a simple budget that will work for you and then automate your money management as much as possible, from automatically paying bills to setting up automatic deposits for investments and savings. Ultimately, this will help you become less (and less stressful) thinking about money, so that you live the «I will teach you to be rich» philosophy: «A rich life is lived outside of the spreadsheet.»
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