Want to feel financially organized in less than thirty minutes? No problem: make a plan for your money with a monthly budget that will help you track expenses and prioritize where your money goes.
- Choose your categories
- Track your spending
- Set your intention
In terms of the numbers that will help you make a budget, you need to know:
- Your income – After all sources of income are tallied, and after taxes and other mandatory payments are deducted, how much are you actually bringing in each month?
- Your expenses – Fixed expenses include housing, food, car payments, and student loans. Variable expenses such as property tax payments, holiday gifts, and vacations fluctuate month to month.
- Savings and debt reduction goals– Beyond expenses, it’s important to budget for short and long term savings. Financial experts recommend 20% of your income should go toward eliminating debt and saving for emergencies and then retirement. (Use this free 50/30/20 budget calculator to figure this out.)
“Budgeting forces us to face the reality of how we spend. It allows us the opportunity to see the gap between what we say is important to us and how we spend our money.”– Carl Richards
Use This Free Monthly Budget Template to Manage Your Money
Spreadsheets are uniquely useful tools for making and tracking your budget. Modern, cloud-based spreadsheets are:
- Simple yet powerful
- Flexible and customizable
- Accessible anywhere you get online
- Highly collaborative
To help more people budget with the benefits of a spreadsheet, Tiller Money has created a free, non-automated version of our Foundation Template for Google Sheets.
This easy-to-use free template includes the following sheets:
- Monthly Budget View
- Yearly budget sheet to plan your year in one place
- Transactions sheet
- Categories sheet
- Balances sheet
- Insights sheet with personalized charts to help you better understand your financial trends
How to Use the Monthly Budget Template
The Monthly Dashboard View is an easy way to see where your budget stands for the current month. You can also adjust the date to see trends in previous months. Here’s how to get started with the free version of the Monthly Budget Template.
1 – In the Categories sheet, customize your spending, income, and transfer categories
Spending, income, and transfer categories are essential for any budget. Without categories, it’s impossible to make a plan for your money or track where it’s coming and going.
You can add, delete and rename your categories in the Categories sheet. The categories you create here are used in the Yearly Budget and Monthly Budget sheets.
The ability to create custom categories that reflect how you think about your money is one of the greatest benefits of budgeting in a spreadsheet.
Here’s a great thread in the Tiller Money Community where people share their budget and tracking categories.
2 – Set your preferred monthly budget amounts
In the Categories sheet, set your planned (budgeted) income, spending, and transfer amounts in each of the categories you created in step 1.
Whatever number you input for January will automatically be used for the following months.
However, you can manually adjust budget amounts in each individual month as needed. For example, you might plan to spend more in your “Travel” category in the summer and less in the winter.
3 – Import or add your financial transactions to the Transactions sheet
The free Monthly Budget Spreadsheet comes with sample transaction data so you can see how it works. You can delete this data and use your own.
There are several ways to get your transactions into this template.
The easiest way to add your own data is with Tiller Money Feeds. Not only will Tiller Money Feeds import your past bank, credit card, and other financial transactions, it automates them into your budget spreadsheet. No more manual data entry, cutting and pasting, or CSV files.
There are a few ways to manually import your bank data. Use this help doc to review your options.
4. Categorize your transactions
Now you should categorize your recent transactions. The more data you categorize, the clearer picture you’ll see.
When you open the template, you’ll notice the current month is set to March 2020. To see an example of how the budget sheet tracks spending, you’ll have to set the date back to January 2019, when the last transactions were categorized.
5. Explore the Monthly Budget View
The Monthly Budget sheet gives you a breakdown of planned versus actual spending and income as well as a planned versus actual cash flow analysis.
You can visualize your budget by type, group, and category. You can also quickly see how much is remaining for a category or if you’ve gone over budget.
Each group’s line also indicates the percentage of your expense budget that’s allocated to that group.
Customize the view of the data on this sheet by using the controls in the upper right corner.
You can view the data for the previous year and month here. If there are no budget periods configured for the time frame on the Categories sheet you will see your actuals for that period.