We’ve put together the most used traditional budgeting methods, budgeting worksheets that are simple to understand and implement, the most used spreadsheets for budgeting as well as the best budgeting apps. A combination of these tools are the effective ways you can take charge of your budgeting needs.
1. Pen And Paper
While budgeting apps and software are popular, you don’t need anything more than a pen and some paper to write a budget. The basic budgeting process involves writing down all your expenses, from monthly bills to small discretionary purchases such as morning coffee or lunches. Then, categorize those expenses according to whether they are needs or wants. Next, add up your income. Earmark your income for your needs first and any money left over can be spent on wants.
An envelope system involves placing cash into envelopes marked for major budget categories such as groceries, clothing and dining out. It makes it easy to see how much money is available for each spending category. The envelope method is a great tool for budgeting because it forces people to take control of their spending with cash in hand.
3. The Federal Trade Commission’s Budget Worksheet
The Federal Trade Commission offers a website to educate consumers about money, including how to budget. To get started, consult its “Make a Budget” worksheet. Download the PDF and fill in the fields to see whether you’re making more than you spend or spending more than you make. It’s also great if you’re new to budgeting since the numbers and formulas that turn off most individuals have been controlled for you.
Download the worksheet via https://consumer.gov/sites/default/files/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet_form.pdf
4. NerdWallet’s Budget Worksheet
Use this online form to input your monthly income and expenses. With that information, the worksheet shows how your finances compare with the 50/30/20 budget breakdown, which recommends that 50% of your income goes toward needs, 30% toward wants and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. You can also download these worksheets in Excel. This thorough worksheet prompts you to consider a wide range of expenses — from life insurance premiums to travel expenses to credit card payments — so you don’t miss anything. You can also see worksheets specific to your situation, whether you’re a college student, parent, homeowner, senior or none of those.
Get this free worksheet via https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/budget-worksheet
5. Microsoft Office Budget Templates
Maintaining a spreadsheet requires discipline, and creating a spreadsheet from scratch takes time. Save yourself the hassle of setting up rows, columns and formulas by using a pre-made Excel template from Office. Templates include a household expense budget, holiday budget planner and event budget. There’s a template for just about every budget situation, from simple to complex. Access Excel online and collaborate with others in the same document at the same time.
Get a template via https://templates.office.com/en-us/budgets
6. Google Drive Budget Spreadsheets
Google Drive is a file storage service where users can create, upload and share files. Get 15GB of storage for free or upgrade if that’s not enough. The Sheets app for Drive includes pre-made templates, such as an annual budget and monthly budget. You can bring your budget with you by logging in to your Google Drive account from your smartphone, tablet or computer. You can also share access to a household budget with other members of your family.
Access the “template gallery” via https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/0/
7. Mint LIfestyle Templates
In addition to Mint’s well-known app, the money manager offers budget templates, too. Choose your desired budget, then use the premade format to guide your categorization of spending. There are demographic-specific options that fit a variety of life stages. Students will benefit from the college template, while parents of young kids will appreciate the day care template.
Download a template to use via https://mint.intuit.com/blog/budgeting/free-budget-tracking-template/
This free budget app offers a simplified budgeting snapshot that will help you organize bills, expenses, subscriptions and set up custom categories. Sync your bank accounts and credit cards to the app, so you’ll know how much cash you have to spend at any time. It is best for personal finance newbies and in-depth budgeters and you can easily connect it to your bank accounts. Additionally, It shows you your daily balances based on the budget you set up and you can upload images of receipts and other items.
Get the app via https://pocketguard.com/
By using the old envelope budgeting method, Goodbudget lets you track your envelope and account balances and sync them to multiple devices. You can make envelopes for all your budgeting categories and reserve money in each one based on that category. You can also save for big purchases, create a workable budget and share budgets with family and friends. With the shared envelope system, this app is the best family budget app or the best budget app for couples.
Sign up via https://goodbudget.com/signup
10. Personal Capital
Personal Capital shows you your net worth, assists you in managing your investments and helps you plan for retirement. Use the dashboard to get an overview of your financial life. If you’re an active investor, use the Personal Strategy tool to take stock of your current portfolio. This app is best suited for investment-focused budgeters and those planning for retirement, and it allows you to create up to 30 custom categories.
Sign up via https://www.personalcapital.com/get-started/
In deciding on a budgeting tool that suits your need, it is relevant to consider your cash flow, which is the movement of money that is coming to you and moving from you each month and your fixed expenses such as rent, mortgage, or insurance and variable expenses such as food and gas. Then make a plan and make sure you consistently review your budget. These are effective ways of making progress and moving towards your financial goals.