Some people love pouring over numbers. But for me, up until recently, the very idea of sitting down to work on a financial spreadsheet would make my eyes glaze over. Not only was it not on my to-do list, budgets and financial planning were something that I avoided altogether.
It wasn’t until I downloaded and started playing around with a few budgeting templates that I actually began to appreciate the process. Maintaining a balanced budget has not only brought me closer to reaching my personal goals, but it’s also made me feel more relaxed, and dare I say, happier.
Wait… budgeting brings happiness? Yes, it can! Take it from someone who used to loath it.
Getting started on a personal budget can be daunting and keeping it up can be a challenge. As you go along, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Regular check-ins to remind yourself about the long-term benefits of budgeting can help you become more intentional with your daily spending.
Maintaining a budget can help ensure that you:
- Always have enough money for the things you need and want
- Stay out of debt (or work your way out of it)
- Are able to survive an emergency
- Are able to plan for future goals
- Can comfortably put your feet up during retirement
- Understand where all your money actually goes
- Reduce or eliminate financial stress
A few weeks ago, we posted a list of our favourite mobile budget apps. If you prefer working on a computer or hashing it out on paper, then check out these free, ready-to-use downloadable budget templates that will help you build a financial plan.
Who knows, maybe one day you might even learn to love budgeting like me (or maybe even hate it just a little less)?
My Money Coach’s interactive budget calculator Excel spreadsheet takes your data and translates it into colourful pie charts and graphics, making it easy for you to visualize the distribution of your money across different categories. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple to create a usable and functional budget that incorporates easy-to-read visuals.
If you want to take your budget to the next level, then The Measure of a Plan’s free budget template is for you. With its robust graphics and visual dashboard, this downloadable template is designed to promote long-term forecasting, and over time will reveal patterns in your spending. Templates are available in both Excel and Google Sheets and come with extensive written instructions to help you get the most out of the process.
The Canadian Federal Government has some great budgeting resources on their website, including a web-based budget planner created by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Their planner can help you create a customized budget in just 3 simple steps. It’s web-based, so it doesn’t require any software and lets you save your information as you go along.
Nerd Wallet recommends that people use the 50/30/20 rule as a simple budgeting framework. The 50/30/20 budget is based on the principle that 50% of your income should go towards your needs, 30% towards your wants and 20% towards savings and debt repayment. Their free monthly online budget tool will reveal how your spending habits compare to the 50/30/20 budget model. Unlike the other downloadable templates listed here, this tool is web-based and can be input right into their website.
Financial guru and best-selling author Dave Ramsey has a good collection of useful budgeting forms on his site, including his downloadable and printable monthly budget spreadsheets. You might want to get your calculator out to use these, because since they’re fillable PDFs, they don’t actually do the math for you. That said, they look great printed out and since they’re easy on the eyes, you may actually look at them more frequently.
Mint Intuit offers a series of free budget templates that allow you to easily track your finances. What we love about Mint’s budget templates is that they offer different templates suited to various stages of your life, so you can build out budgets specific to your current status, whether you’re a student, parent of young children or managing a household. Each budget page also includes Mint’s tips and strategies to help keep your finances healthy no matter where you are in life.
Did someone say simple? Yes please! Simple.com has a great downloadable Excel template that uses the zero-based approach to budgeting that accounts for every dollar in your budget. This method of budgeting “gives every dollar a job” and is a great money-management style for those who want to take a detailed and eagle-eyed approach to tracking their spending.
If you love customizing your own spreadsheets, then you needn’t look any further than your existing software. Both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel have free, built-in budget templates, which are pretty similar in functionality and allow you to easily record and track your income and expenses.
Are you new to budgeting and not yet sure what type of budget template you should use? Vertex 42 has a large list of downloadable budgeting templates so there’s something for everyone, from the novice to the expert. From basic monthly budgets to complex cash flow worksheets and project budgets, this site has it all.
Moola can help you budget
While Moola isn’t a budgeting tool per se, we did write about ways that you can use Moola to manage your finances. By determining your monthly expenses in the categories you shop every month, such as gas, grocery, dining out, pharmacy, and so on, you can preload eGift cards for these amounts so that you don’t overspend.
Right now, Moola has deals on all your everyday essential items.