Creating a spreadsheet budget? You’ve come to the right place! Today, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to create a budget worksheet that gets you to your financial goals.
Why budget with a spreadsheet in 2022?
When it comes to budgeting in 2022, you’ve got two main options: Using a spreadsheet or using an app. While both have their merits, at Tille we’re big fans of spreadsheets.
Spreadsheet budgeting allows you to create a money plan that’s unique to your own personal circumstances and preferences, instead of using whatever default methodology worked best for the app developer.
- Spreadsheets are highly customizable.
- Spreadsheets allow for built-in collaboration, while most apps do not. This is particularly important if you’re managing your personal finances with a spouse or partner.
- You can choose from an array of pre-built budgeting templates so you can get started quickly.
- Spreadsheets are free while many budgeting apps cost money.
- Spreadsheets can allow for more privacy when you use the right settings.
- Spreadsheets allow for cloud access, while some apps only allow you to access your budget from one device.
- You might need to know a little bit of coding unless you use an intuitive program like Tiller.
- Most budget apps come with their own, built-in philosophy. With spreadsheets come freedom, but you’ll also need to decide on your own budgeting strategy rather than simply adopting the strategy of the app developer.
- Spreadsheets don’t inherently import your banking data like many budgeting apps do – unless you’re using a program like Tiller.
- Budgeting apps are often easier to view on mobile devices like a cell phone.
- If you’re using Excel instead of Google Sheets, you may run into more difficulty when it comes to things like sharing your spreadsheet with a partner or accessing your budget from the cloud. It’s still doable, but it’s not as simple as using Google Drive.
Viewing your spreadsheet budget on your phone
One paragraph; I will put this part in.
- Download mobile apps from Google and Microsoft
- Use a tool like Glide: Make Your Own Tiller Money App with Glide
Getting your transactions into your spreadsheet
I will include this part!
What to include in your spreadsheet worksheet
Whether you get super granular or super broad, you’ll want to include every penny you earn, spend or save in your monthly budget. At the most basic level, you’ll want to include all of your income and expenses. From a bird’s eye view, you’ll want to include things like:
- Income from work.
- Income from side hustles and other sources.
- All of your spending.
- All of your bills, including revolving debt like credit cards.
- All of your savings.
Some people benefit from getting hyper-specific with their budget line items. It helps them ensure they’re not forgetting about any bills or postponing any savings goals. For example, maybe you want to save 15% of your income. But you want to know where all that savings is actually going. So you list out each goal:
- 401(k) retirement savings.
- Partner 1 401(k).
- Employer contribution.
- Partner 2 401(k).
- Employer contribution.
- 529 college savings.
- Savings for Child 1.
- Savings for Child 2.
- Emergency savings.
- Vacation savings.
- Big, summer trip to the beach.
- Weekend trip to see the family.
For others, this level of detail will feel overwhelming. Use whichever strategy feels best for you.
When you are budgeting for long-term goals in particular, including visuals with your spreadsheet can help you stay motivated. For example, maybe you want to create a graph showing the growth of the investments in your 401k over time. Or a bar chart showing your progress towards your savings goal for that beach vacation.
If you’re using the Golden Rule of Budgeting, you can also add columns in your spreadsheet showing how much you planned to spend vs how much you actually spent. Then you can easily see the difference and decide where to allocate your ‘extra’ money.
A word about budgeting categories
How you break up your personal budget categories is up to you. You might like getting very specific like we discussed above, or you may prefer to keep your categories super flexible and broad.
The important thing is to make your budgeting categories meaningful. Ideally, you’ll be working with a program like Tiller that allows you to customize each line item so it’s conducive to your unique budgeting style.
There are some overarching categories to consider as you build your budgeting worksheet, though. It can help to have a section of your spreadsheet that outlines fixed monthly expenses you can’t really change without negotiating or refinancing, like your insurance premiums, student loan payments or car payments.
Then, there are variable expenses you have a little more control over through your behaviors, like how much you spend on gas or utility bills.
You’ll also want to be sure to include a section that acknowledges discretionary spending. Things like concert tickets, your Netflix subscription and dining out can all be cut out of your budget completely if you hit a month where money is particularly tight.
Finally, don’t forget to build your financial dreams into your budget! Saving for an early retirement or taking a relaxing vacation by turquoise waters are attainable goals – but only if you’re actively saving for them.
Other tips for creating your spreadsheet budget
When you budget with a spreadsheet, it opens up the doors for a lot more customization and communication. For example, if you share finances you can take notes and tag family members to facilitate more collaboration around the monthly household budget.
Spreadsheets also allow you to parse out your data in creative ways. For example, setting up a heat map can help you identify your biggest areas of spending.
Maybe you’re trying to cut back on dining out. You can use filters to quickly identify spending in the ‘Dining Out’ category.
The growth function can help you predict future spending based on past spending habits across a certain category.
And if you’re traveling abroad, spreadsheets allow you to budget and convert different currencies in a way that most budgeting apps do not.
Free spreadsheet budget templates
There are no shortage of great budgeting spreadsheet templates! They can get as broad or as personal as you see fit. And there are lots of options whether you’re using Excel or Google Sheets.
If you’re using Excel, you might want to check out Mint’s free Student Budget Excel Template. Or if you’re a little further on in life and need to create a household budget, you might want to download the Family Budget Excel Template from Vertex42.
Check out the best free budgeting spreadsheets for Excel.
If you prefer Google Sheets, you also have a ton of options. Most people create a monthly budget, but depending on your pay schedule you might want to do things a little differently. For example, maybe looking at monthly income is unhelpful because you get paid weekly. You might want to check out this great weekly budget template from Reddit. If you’re budgeting over a longer time period, you can turn to Google’s very own annual budget template. There are even great two-person spreadsheet templates if you’re budgeting with a partner.
Check out the best free budget templates using Google Sheets.
Of course, here at Tiller we offer a wide selection of budget templates when you sign up for your free trial. Each sheet is prebuilt to be easy-to-use from the get go, but also allows for a ton of customization depending on your budgeting goals. Get started on your spreadsheet budgeting journey today.