I understand that budgeting isn’t any fun. It’s more fun to just spend what you want to spend when you want to spend it. See those cool, new polarized sunglasses? Heck, they’re just $25. Why not just buy them?
On the other hand, making and sticking to a budget is hard work. You have to first figure out where all your money is going and then what you can reduce or eliminate.
Use a free budgeting template
There is one way to make budgeting easier–if you have a computer–and that is to get a use a budgeting template. For example, the company LearnVest offers a free budgeting template you can access online. The company says it makes “budgeting as easy as spending.” While I might be a bit skeptical about this claim, it does appear that using a template such as this would be much easier than creating a budget spreadsheet yourself. The one downside to this kind of online template is that it is online–meaning that you have to provide the company with all your information and then hope it keeps it safe and secure.
Managing your money worksheets
The website SmartAboutMoney.org also offers a free tool called Managing Your Money (Worksheets) it says that, ”will help you determine and manage your debt, major expenses and family income.” Its worksheets begin with an area where you fill in all your sources of income, followed by areas where you list your debts, when your bills are due, your occasional big expenses, a spending plan for fixed expenses, a spending plan for controllable expenses, and so forth. Once you finish these worksheets you should have a complete and accurate picture of your spending, which is the first step in bringing it under control. I thought the Summary sheet was interesting because it has a space for “Amount Left.” If you’re like us, there won’t be an amount left. In fact, you may like many families – spending more than you earn.
Microsoft can help
The Microsoft Office® website offers a free Personal Budget Worksheet that you can download and use in conjunction with Microsoft Excel® – assuming you own Excel. This could be a better solution than the LearnVest budgeting template because you would always have the information at your fingertips and on your computer.
They also have a colorful holiday budget worksheet to get you through the holidays without breaking the bank.
What makes these templates really useful
What makes these templates very useful is the fact that they provide you with a list of all possible expenses. My experience is that it’s very difficult to just sit and try to remember all the things that you spend money on. While you would probably remember the big stuff–your house payment or rent, auto insurance, utilities, etc.–you might not be so good about remembering the small stuff such as household repairs, hair care, cosmetics, dry cleaning, movies, parking and the like. You won’t have to worry about this if you use a budgeting template because it will have all of these categories and more. All you have to do is fill in the blanks.