My Personal Excel Budget Spreadsheet

By glblguy

The very first personal budget I ever made was done using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The budget spreadsheet followed the principles set by Dave Ramsey in that it was a zero based budget done month to month. It was a very simple Excel spreadsheet that basically contained a list of our income and expenses. It provided no automation, and no details on transactions, but it worked. As I began to learn more about budgeting and managing our finances, I began to enhance the spreadsheet a little, but it was still very manual and fairly tedious. I also didn’t care for the way I showed all of the months together on one spreadsheet. I wanted to see one month at a time.

My second version was a little better, and allowed entry of transactions, but I still had to manually categorize them. We also started managing our budget at a per paycheck level, rather than monthly. Since I get paid every two weeks from my full-time job, every so often we would overspend a little in the first paycheck, and be short in the second. To resolve this, we set a budget for each paycheck.

The spreadsheet worked fine, but I wanted a better solution.

Budget Software Programs

I began scouring the internet looking for various budget software packages and trying them. I tried PearBudget’s spreadsheet, PearBudget online (you can read a review of it over at The Simple Dollar), Mvelopes, Mint, and finally YNAB Pro which I wrote a full review off. I used YNAB Pro for 2 months, and while it is a great piece of software , it just wasn’t exactly what I needed. In fact, all of the software I tried was great, but not what I needed. Which brings to me to a very important point. One of the most important criteria your budget solution must meet is that it should work for you. If you don’t like it or you find it tedious, you won’t use it and in turn probably will stop budgeting.

The one main feature that YNAB Pro lacked for me, was the ability to set a budget for each paycheck. In fairness to YNAB, it lacks this capability for a very good reason. YNAB follows the principles of The YNAB Way, which advocates living off of money earned from the previous month. Absolutely a great way to budget and live;however for me, that would take a fairly long time to save up and I wouldn’t be throwing anything except minimums at my debt snowball. After some careful consideration, I’ve decided to not use YNAB for now for this reason, but return to using it once I can live off my previous months earnings.

My Budget Requirements

I decided to write down my requirements for a software package and post them out on the Get Rich Slowly forums and get some input from others on what would work for me. Here are the requirements I listed:

  1. Ability to allocate budget per paycheck, in my case every 2 weeks
  2. Ability to import transactions from the bank. Preferably seamlessly integrated, but I’d be okay with downloading and importing.
  3. Define my own categories and track by category
  4. Monthly history so I can look back and compare spending for each month

Turns out requirements 3 and 4 are easy and are provided by all of the packages. Requirements 1 and 2 were the stickers. I didn’t find the ability to do #1 in any package. Every package I looked at always wanted a monthly budget. Requirement #2 was supported, but at different levels. For example, in YNAB Pro you must first download your transactions from the bank, and then import them.

Lots of great people responded to the thread, but I very quickly realized that in order to get the requirements I wanted, I would need to revert back to Excel or write my own software program. I actually considered the later, but just don’t have the time. Back to Excel I went, but decided this time I was going to do it right.

My Budget Spreadsheet

I spent a few evenings looking at various budget spreadsheets I found on the net, and used some ideas from a spreadsheet Kevin from No Debt Plan sent to me. I pulled the best ideas from all of these, and added a few things of my own and created my own budget spreadsheet, or at least the 1.1 version of it.

[download id="1"]

The spreadsheet I’ve created is free and I encourage you to use it, change it, or send it out to your friends. If you make any changes or feature additions to it, I’d love to hear about them. Also, if you find any errors, please make me aware of those as well so I can fix them.

I’m working on a second version now that will import a bank download file and allow you to categorize each transaction. I’ll announce that as soon as I get it complete and fully tested.

The spreadsheet seems to work fine under Google Docs, so if you don’t have Microsoft Excel that would be a great option to use. While I haven’t tried it, it should also work under Open Office as well.

The search continues

I’m continuing my quest to find a solution that works. A few new solutions have arrived recently, including Neobudget and Check The Budget which I’ll be taking a look at. I’ll let you know what I think of them.


58 Responses (including trackbacks) to “My Personal Excel Budget Spreadsheet”

  1. Laura Says:

    I love the layout of the spreadsheet! It’s easy to find the categories you need.

  2. Luke Says:

    I’m the guy who’s working on NeoBudget. It sounds like your needs are exactly the same as mine which is why I created my own (because I didn’t find a good solution out there). I currently have three of our four requirements, and am working on the fourth right now (importing transactions). That should be working in a week or two. Check it out: http://www.neobudget.com

  3. Charing Says:

    I use Dave Ramsey’s zero budget strategy each month too and my spreadsheet looks amazingly similar to what you have set up! My only comment is to better format the print layout; when I open it in Excel, the Monthly Budget worksheet defaults to print on six pages. It would look better on one single page or perhaps two.

    So, do you create a whole new Excel file for a new month, or create new worksheets for each month? I have over a year’s worth of budgets in one single file, each month has its own worksheet. I find this helpful for me personally because I can easily calculate total debt repayment over the span of multiple months.

  4. Pete @ biblemoneymatters.com Says:

    great worksheet – i may actually use this! We’re doing the Dave Ramsey thing right now as well, and this should work perfectly!

  5. Pinyo Says:

    Thanks for sharing your spreadsheet. I agree, that Excel is awesome. Despite some of the other software that I use, the majority of my tracking and calculations are still done on Excel.

  6. Rhiana at A Frugal Life Says:

    This is so fantastic. Your requirements are exactly the same as mine and although I’m good at following and maintaining a spreadsheet. I’m terrible at creating them from scratch. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Michele Says:

    I use mvelopes.com. We’re paid weekly. I’m able to have a budget for each and every weekly paycheck, AND separate mine from my husband’s so we have different profiles. It then is put into a monthly budget. Then when I get paid, I’m able to “fund” my envelopes using that particular week’s “paycheck profile.” Also – all my transactions are downloaded daily and I just mark which envelope they should go to – including, checking, savings, credit cards, and retirement accounts. It’s the first budgeting system I could really use on a daily basis in a “virtual banking” format so I wasn’t manually inputting (and losing) every receipt. I know exactly where I stand with every account and the budget itself every day.

  8. David Carter Says:

    One of my readers recommended to me that people should just save automatically. Take a certain percentage out of every check that you want to save and then just try to live off of the rest. Eventually you wont even remember that you took it out. Probably far easier than a budget.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @Charing – excellent suggestion. I don’t print, so didn’t even think about that. I’ll work on that for the next version.

    As for history, I was going to use a new file for each month. I debated putting multiple tabs, but having them in separate files makes archival easier…plus I personally get overwhelmed with too many tabs!

    @Michele – I liked Mvelopes, but in the end I guess the “frugalness” in me just had an issue paying $10.00/month.

    @David – Budgeting isn’t about just saving, it’s about controlling your spending so you spend less than you earn and tracking what you spend so you can predict your needs for the next month. I not only budget, but I make everything I can automatic too. Bet of both worlds!

  10. Paul Says:

    Nice job, although I think I may have found a few errors in your initial version:

    On Worksheet Tab:
    cell B31 – Total Food, isn’t including B28 in the summary
    B68 – Total Savings, isn’t including your Emergency fund (B64)
    C68 – is only including Real-Estate Taxes, not the other savings rows
    C74 – Total Credit Cards is not summing the 3 credit cards (same thing for G74)

    Also, it doesn’t look like some of the first half actuals are flowing from the detail tabs to the summary. For example, cell C17, Home Repairs for first half is zero and doesn’t come from the Home Repairs tab like the second half cell (G17) does.

    I hope you don’t think I’m being nit-picky but just wanted to point out a few minor mistakes I think I may have found that can be easily fixed.

    Thanks

  11. glblguy Says:

    @Paul – Thank you so much. At first I couldn’t figure out how in the world I made that many mistakes, but then I realized the version I posted was my real budget with the numbers removed…looks like I removed more than the numbers!

    I just fixed all of the errors you and everyone else mentioned. I’m going to double check the spreadsheet again and will release v1.1 later this evening.

    Thanks for beta testing :-)

  12. Moneytummy Says:

    I really like the looks of the spreadsheet.
    I’m going to try it out in addition to my regular excel sheet.
    Yours looks nice and condensed, thanks for sharing!

  13. Greener Pastures Says:

    Thanks for sharing your spreadsheet with us. You really present a nice level of detail.

    I also use excel to track expenses. Mine is a bit more concise, is all on one page, tracking the months by columns. It might be helpful to you, if you eventually wish to create a summary page. You may already have that in the works, but if not, and you’d like a copy, let me know-

    Best,
    Lisa

  14. Zee Says:

    Thanks for posting this (and the update!) Like Greener Pastures, I’m going to give it a try alongside my existing spreadsheet. I currently use Dave Ramsey’s TotalMoneyMakeover.com budgeting software, which I really like, but it doesn’t do everything for me… I don’t currently track exact “actual” spending – and not sure I need to since I seem to have figured out how much I spend in each category on a regular basis… but couldn’t hurt to try a new way and lord knows I love a good spreadsheet! ;-)

  15. Toby Says:

    So what’s the objection to Quicken? It works great. I work for a very cutting edge software company where everyone loves to use open source solutions and home-brewed stuff for just about everything, but I must admit that for the price, Quicken really does it all. For the time you spend on your spreadsheet, Quicken is a frugal choice. MS Money isn’t as good…

  16. glblguy Says:

    @Toby – No objection really, just a little more than I need or want. To be honest, I haven’t used Quicken recently, but in the past you couldn’t budget different amounts each month, or at least no easily. It also only budgets at the month level and not bi-weekly.

    If you need or want something like Quicken, it’s a great piece of software, just not what I wanted or needed.

    Thanks for the comments.

  17. NH Mom of 3 Says:

    This looks great, and I will be trying it out in the next week by populating some of our personal numbers. A few things that I know we’ll need to modify include having Car Payment #2 and related categories, and additional Credit Cards listed. Are all the formulas straight-forward so that when adding these rows I should be able to find all the places any sums,etc need to be updated? I currently use a basic spreadsheet to overview each month’s expenses and anticipated income, and fill in check #s or “made online” (and dates) to verify when payments are made or set up as a way to track them. Then I compare this spreadsheet to the transactions listed in online banking so I know when things post — which is when I delete them from the monthly spreadsheet. Very basic. But not really a “budget”. Looking forward to trying out your sheet to help move us from being reactive to proactive with our personal finances. Thanks!

  18. Tasha Says:

    I get paid fortnightly and use Excel as well. Next year I plan on using http://www.whostolemymoney.com. It’s NZ-based, where I’m from, but it works well for fortnightly-paid people. I struggled on finding one for me as well, but I already had decided on Excel for a year’s use when I found the site.

  19. Rhys Says:

    Nice Excel model.

    I’ve created a fully automated budget planner in Excel which uses intelligent formulas and drop down menu functionality and incorporates analysis and graphs.

    If you’re interested, it’s located at http://ww.easy-budgeting.com.

    Cheers and good luck to everyone with their budgeting.

  20. Gabrielle Says:

    I must have got here to late because your link doesn’t work can you email me the spreadsheet.

  21. Nelli Says:

    Just add “w” and the website will work:P:P:P
    http://www.easy-budgeting.com.

  22. Greg Kamer Says:

    I just found this site today and love it. I can’t wait to get more into it.

    I tried to download the spreadsheet, but I am getting a 404 error when I try to download it.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  23. Gangsta Says:

    nice site I like and I sure to visit, well done

  24. Taunya Says:

    Thank you for the spreadsheet. We are new to RVing and I sent my husband your article on trailer sway.

  25. Stephanie Says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  26. Chad Gaier Says:

    How do you handle a home repairs accounts. Say you budget $50 every month for auto repairs, Jan, Feb, March no expenses; so you have a surplus of $150; In April you have an $80 expense for a screen door. How do you show that you didn’t go over budget for April?

  27. smart meters Says:

    Its really a good thinking and very amazing to see as i also want to make personal budget but i have not been successing in that. Now this month i have started and want to fulfil it completely.

  28. JLB Says:

    I enjoy this spreadsheet….I think I found an error. when I typed in a fieldtrip amount on the “Field Trip” sheet, it not only added the amount to the appropriate column/row on the master sheet, it also added it to the savings/emergency column. I corrected the error by going to cell C65 and changing the function to 0. Just an FYI…it’s a great tool!!!! Thanks!

  29. Jana Says:

    I would love to look at your spreadsheet, but it would not download on my mac. Do you have a way of sending it in a compatible form for my mac? Thanks, Jana

  30. DjohnB Says:

    Hi Jana, I have an Apple Mac, and have just downloaded it without a problem using Safari.
    I suggest the problem is not because you have an Apple Mac. :)

    By the way Glblguy, GREAT SPREADSHEET. Thanks, and have a great 2011, DjohnB

  31. Lorraine Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for making this available free. This is truly a blessing for my family.

  32. Connie Says:

    I really like your worksheet. I’ve been working on one for a while, but totally different. My only concern is utilizing it with a weekly paycheck and a bi-weekly paycheck that get combined. Can you tell me or edit a version for that?
    Thanks!

  33. Shailah Says:

    I love this worksheet!!! Finally a budget method that is realistic!!! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to create this! Absolutely the most useful budget system yet :)

  34. Shailah Says:

    **there is a mispell on this statement… it should be “will” instead…~~ The spreadsheet with automatically update the Monthly Budget worksheet to reflect the expenses

  35. KristineS Says:

    Another great web-based budgeting software is https://www.inexfinance.com/. My husband and I have been using this website for quite some time and we are thrilled with the amount of available features for creating, adjusting and tracking household budgets, especially the rollover feature. Also it lets you create your own event calendar and set recurrent transactions, which is quite convenient for handling monthly payments and utility bills.

  36. Leslie Says:

    I really enjoy this spreadsheet. I plan to use it. Thank you! My hubby and I plan on have a finance chat this evening….and I look forward sharing this with him. THANK YOU!

  37. Robyn Nesmith Says:

    Thank you so much for creating this spreadsheet. My husband and I are still using your earlier budget spreadsheet as we never had any problems with it. We started using your spreadsheet in 2009 along with the baby steps and have paid for our wedding in cash, paid off many credit cards, and paid for home improvements. We have many more steps to go, but it feels great to know that we can pay for items in cash instead credit as well as avoid the sinking feeling whenever a crisis should arise. Our thanks and gratitude are long overdue.

    Kindly,
    Robyn

  38. Janice Says:

    Thanks for this great spreadsheet. One question I have is how do I carry over and where do I track items in a long term budgeting such as in Christmas, taxes, gifts, insurance, etc?

  39. Brandon Says:

    I put a number in for lets say home repairs and it automatically enters that in for me on the main page. This is great. The problem is when I either delete or change the value on the main when I go back to fix the number on the home repairs tab it doesn’t update automatically to the main page anymore.

  40. Gil Says:

    Just downloaded your spreadsheet and will be using it with OpenOffice. I’ve read all the feedback/replies and can’t wait to get started! I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan as well – just need to get started :-)
    Does anyone (mvelopes? but yeah, a free solution sounds more frugal to me!) have any ideas about how to handle 2 incomes on different pay schedules? I get paid every other Friday, my wife on the 5th and 15th.

  41. Amy Says:

    Thank you for sharing your budget spreadsheet! It has been a life changer for my husband and I!! Once I got the hang of it, I was able to customize and change it up a bit; in conjunction with using the envelope system for most of our expenses, we are well on track! God Bless You!

  42. tom Says:

    I stumbled across your site and it describes EXACTLY what I’ve been through. For months now, on and off, I have been looking for an envelope budgeting solution that works for me. I’ve tried YNAB, GnuCash (not a real envelope budgeting system), Mvelopes, Neobudget, Mint, etc. All of them, IMO, had a critical flaw or were too expensive for me. If the one that works turns out to be spreadsheet-based, that’s A-OK with me! Though I don’t know how to write code, I am comfortable with Libre Calc & Excel. I am downloading your sheet now.
    Thanks!!

  43. Robert Says:

    I can’t seem to find the link to this excel sheet. Can someone help me locate it? Thank you very much.

  44. Kelly Says:

    I don’t see your excel link anywhere. Is it available to download?

  45. Jeannette Says:

    Where is the link? lol

  46. Nikki Says:

    I feel stupid. Where is the link to download your excel spreadsheet?

  47. Chris Says:

    I cant find the link to download please help!

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