A couple of days ago I promised to release my budget spreadsheet in a comment to Nicola’s wonderful How To Make a Budget post. Since a promise is a promise I better show you guys how I keep track my income and expenses. If you like Microsoft Excel fanciness, you might want to check out the actual template too!
Contrary to most people, and unlike Nicola from The Frugal Cottage, I don’t allocate a pre-determined amount of money to expense categories. You could say I deploy an anti-budget, but without revisiting a giant list of expenses regularly. Actually, I’m somewhere in the middle. I aim for an overall savings rate and adjust my spending on the fly from memory.
As a result, I can’t use automated budgeting tools Like Mint.com and YNAB. Since I’m not from ‘Murica, I don’t have access to most of the better tools anyway. Manual labour is the only viable option to cram my income and expenses in my tiny little brain. By updating my budget every night I know the balance of my bank accounts at any given time, which is a big plus.
While this sounds like a lot of work, it will only take you one minute every night. Pro-tip: it won’t if you don’t spend anything at all! After a while you will also be doing most of the budgeting subconsciously. Therein lies the true value of my approach to keeping a good budget.
So how does it work? My spreadsheet consists of three tabs: overview, income and expenses.
After choosing the right year at the top of the sheet, the overview page does everything automatically. It provides a summary of all your income and expenses by month, the savings rate and a nice graph for an instant visual representation of your efforts. The categories on the left provide more detailed information.
The income and expenses sheets work identical to each other. To have the overview page aggregate all your data, you’ll have to provide the date, select the type of income or expense from a drop-down menu based on the categories on the overview page, and enter the correct amount of money. For future reference you can also add some detailed information.
That’s it! The Excel sheet will take care of the rest and provide you with a nice summary of your budget. When a year passes by, just change the year you wish to view at the top of the overview sheet and you’ll be all set. If you ever wish to check your savings rate from a couple of years ago, you can always go back and change he date again. Excel will take care of the rest.
Download my budget spreadsheet and be sure to let me know in the comments what you like and don’t like about it!