Good news! We finally have a monthly budget template that works for us. It’s not fancy. It’s simple. If you want to take control of your finances, using a budget template is an easy way to make this happen. That is why I made a blank version of our budget template to share for free.
(Scroll to the bottom if you want to grab it right now).
What is a budget template?
A budget template is a way to allocate your income to cover bills, expenses, and savings goals. If you use a budget template regularly, you can start to see major progress with your financial goals. (That was the case for us!)
Finding the right budget template
We have downloaded so many free monthly budget templates only to find them clunky and complicated. A budget template should be easy and simple to use. It should be customizable to your own needs and financial goals. This is why we made our own.
We have used our free budget template for over a year now. We have been able to pay off 40% of student loan debt, save for major house expenses, and continue investing each month. I can’t give all the credit to the budget template, because this took dedication on our part as well. But, the budget template helped us stay on track. It was a way to limit our spending and make our money work for us.
Must Have’s for our free budget template
These were the three essential requirements for our budget template to actually work.
1. Easy to use
Our budget template is on a google sheets, making it easy to use. We can create new tabs for each month at the bottom and look at our budgets over the long term as well.
2. Accessible for both of us
Because we store our budget template with Google drive, we can both have access all the time.
Our plans and goals change. Sometimes we are saving for a trip and other times we are working on student loan debt pay-off. Our sheet needed to be customizable according to our financial goals.
How to use the free monthly budget template
The budget template is simple to use. At the start of each month, you should fill it out. Even is the numbers are estimated you are filling this out as your money goal for the month. This is your budget to try and stick with. At the end of the month, you can back through and input the real numbers in a new collum to see how you did.
Here is your guide to get started using our free budget template.
1. Input your total monthly income
If it is only you, then remove “Income 2”.
2. Fill in your monthly expenses
Monthly expenses should include all of your bills, groceries, etc. They might be different from ours, so feel free to change them around.
3. Manage your debt payments
Any debt you have should go in this section. We write the minimum payments for each debt and then have a separate line for any extra payments we are making on the debt. You don’t need to do it this way! You can put the full amount you plan to pay off in the line instead and remove the “extra payment” feature.
Note: This section should be for the major debt you plan to pay off, not debt you incur each month but have budgeted for. For example, We buy groceries on our credit cards every month. Groceries already has a line in the budget, so our credit card debt isn’t really debt to us since we pay it off each month. We track the amount on our credit cards using Mint app.
4. Make savings goals
Even if you are paying off debt, you should still be saving and investing a portion of your monthly income. You get to decide what this is, but I recommend you always save for retirement and keep you emergency fund nice and plump.
5. Allocate leftover money
Now you can see your monthly total for expenses. You might have leftover money. This money should go towards your big financial goals. If you are doing 0 based budgeting, you will adjust the budget number above until the leftover money is zero.
Here are some ideas for where the left over money should go:
- Emergency fund
- IRA contribution
- Extra debt payment
6. Use the budget template at the end of the month
You made a budget on the first day of the month. At the end of the month it is time to square up. You should look through your bank statements or look at your transactions on an app like Mint. Input your actually spending next to the budget numbers. Hopefully, you staying in budget.
If you have a hard time sticking to a budget and find yourself going over, then I recommend manually tracking your spending week by week. I have a template for this as well.
Copy the Free Monthly Budget Template
Find our free monthly budget template here. You will be required to make a new copy of the google sheet when you go to access it. I hope you find this helpful! Let me know if you have any budgeting questions below.