....if you want control of your money.
A budget is a living thing! Keep track of it using a personal budget worksheet and update it regularly. Once you see the results you get from sticking with it, you’ll grow to love it, even if you don’t right now.
So, you’ve set your budget and now you’re ready to commit it to paper - or a computer screen in this case :) (If you haven’t set your budget go here now to do so and come back here when you’re done.)
Click to download my personal budget worksheet and let’s get busy…
Most of the instructions of how to use it are on the actual worksheet, but here is a summary:
This sheet is just a sample budget showing one month’s fictitious expenditure with instructions as to how it works, how to make it yours and other little tips. The sheet is protected so you can’t change it, but you can still see any formulas that are in the cells in case you make a mess on your actual budget sheet.
This sheet is where you will actually enter your own expenses to form your personal budget worksheet - it’s pretty self-explanatory.
This is a fun, extra little tool for you. It allows you to see, on a pie chart, what percentage of your money is being spent where. It’s handy to notice overspending or even that you’re allocating too little in some areas (like savings). Follow the instructions on the sheet to get a great visual of where your money is going.
You don’t need to have everything in your budget locked into place to start using this sheet – in fact it will help you to work out your debt repayment and savings plans if you haven’t got there yet. Just enter whatever you have set in your budget so far.
I have titled each expense box by month just as a guide, but you can change that to weekly or fortnightly or whatever you prefer. Just enter the period the particular box will relate to.
The idea is to put EVERY expense in there. For example, If you've budgeted to buy coffee on the way to work, enter it under a separate description. This way you get to really see where you’re spending money. Whereas if you add your coffees to say, your grocery bill, you won’t really notice if your spending in that area starts to creep up because you keep ‘treating’ yourself to an extra coffee every day.
If you’re going to do all this work to get your finances under control, you need to be honest with yourself and not hide those extra little bits under other descriptions.
It actually works both ways because sometimes you can stress out about spending on something only to find that actually it’s not really as bad as you think.
If you follow this guidance and keep your personal budget worksheet updated, you start to get a true picture of your finances. You'll know exactly where to cut back and where you can allocate a little more if you have extra funds coming in that month.
This system also allows you to budget for upcoming extra expenses. So for example, let’s say in two months time you know your car registration is due. Add it to that month either under 'Extras' or under it’s own one-off description (preferred). Then you can see beforehand if you need to cut back somewhere else in order to pay it.
Eventually this will also lead to cutting out the use of credit. Right now you may overspend because you put any extra expenses on the good old credit card. This is a false economy because you haven’t had to cut back on your bad spending habits to afford it, and now you have even more to pay back, plus the interest.
Take time to care for your money - allocate some time each week to sit down and update your personal budget worksheet. After a while it actually becomes addictive, as you’ll be surprised at how effective it is - and that can only be a good thing if you’re aiming to take control of your finances again.