Self Employed

Budget planning with spreadsheets

Marin Perez

If you’re ready to start saving for something big (a house? A new car? Starting a family?) — or if you think you’ve been spending a little too much, planning a budget using a spreadsheet can help you get on the right track. While some might find budgets limiting or stressful, they can be a big help in seeing your whole financial picture. And, keeping track of everything in one place will help you get your finances where you want them to be. Spreadsheets provide flexibility, clear calculations, and means of easy adjustments.

See the big picture and the day to day

One of the benefits of working with spreadsheets is the ability to capture any degree of detail — it just depends on how you set it up. Sheets or tabs allow you to plan out different degrees of detail:

  • Your financial year
  • Your monthly outlook
  • Your weekly plan

By dividing your budget into different chunks of time, you’ll be able to set financial goals and give yourself a breakdown of how to achieve them.

Document everything

One of the benefits of putting a budget on paper is that you have the chance to put a critical self-reflective eye on your saving and spending habits. So, make sure you enter everything into your spreadsheet. Practice tracking your daily spending to identify your daily or weekly money habits. One of the benefits of using a digital spreadsheet is that you have the opportunity to quickly and easily add or delete rows. This gives you the chance to make your entries first and then organize them — there’s no need to feel the pressure to have it arranged perfectly the first time around.

Get visual

If you think lists are overwhelming, you’re not alone. Sometimes looking at a long checklist doesn’t feel very encouraging. Luckily, spreadsheets can help! Once you’ve made your budget entries, transforming them into a table or chart only takes a click of a button. You can transform your budget into the visual picture that will help you most — making planning your income the most effective for you.

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Formulas

Even if you’re an organized person, math might be a weakness. Let’s face it — it’s been a long time since Algebra 1.

Spreadsheets give you the opportunity to take math off your plate. By using formulas, you can easily see budget totals, overspending, and more. And, with pre-built formulas, finding the information you need can be accessed more easily rather than adding to your headache.

If you’re looking for some math that’s not already designed, there are a number of strategies to help you learn what you need. From online tutorials to videos to your library’s resources to blogs where people take you step-by-step, the information is available.

If you’re not familiar with spreadsheet formulas, you might have a small learning curve, but once you have what you need, your budget will be easily duplicated, adjustable, and informative.

Why do you need budget formulas? You can calculate a lot:

  • Spending totals
  • Leftover income
  • Savings growth

Automatic updates? Not just for apps

Livelihoods aren’t stagnant — a raise, a bonus, a new job, an additional income source can change what your budget looks like. When you’re working with spreadsheets, the formulas or sheets you use can update each other as you work with them.

If you have your monthly income broken down to average out from your yearly income, that will update when you change what your yearly looks like. And, if you’re using multiple sheets to track your yearly, monthly, or weekly spending, you can make sure that the data carries over so you don’t have to, ensuring that there’s a smaller chance of introducing errors into your budget.

This benefit is huge, as you’ve eliminated the sources of human error that can develop as your budget gets more detailed. Digital spreadsheets can help you keep accountable for your budget and your planning.

Spreading security

When it comes to a budget, you have something at stake. A budget gives you a plan for your future, whether you’re reducing debt, living within your means, or saving for the future. So, it’s important to keep yourself accountable and make sure you’re set up for success.

A spreadsheet can help support you and your financial needs — while it won’t put money in the bank for you, it will help you keep all of your financial records in one place so that you can make the best financial decisions, from an extra cup of coffee to paying off one more loan. With a spreadsheet at your side, you’ll be secure in knowing that you have a clear financial picture and you’re taking charge of your money.

Executing your plan

Now that you’ve taken the necessary steps in preparing your budget, you can put your pen to paper — or better yet, hands to keyboard. While you could start from scratch, that isn’t always necessary. There are several online repositories of free budget templates that cover an expansive range of budget types.

Depending on your individual needs, you’ll want to follow a template for a budget that aligns with your personal circumstances. Consider some of the following helpful budget templates:

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