Leslie’s (New & Improved!) 2011 Budget Template

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A budget is a flexible financial document that provides a guide to keep you living at or below your means. Budgets are not meant to be fixed in stone and are more successful when they are not. Our circumstances change every few months or so and certainly every year. This is why it is important to make a new refreshed budget at the beginning of the year.

If you are looking for a budget that is simple yet gives you complete control, look no further:
Download Leslie’s 2011 Budget Excel Sheet



Monthly Worksheets

Take charge of your finances by manually tracking your expenses every month. Set aside 15 minutes once a week to go over your online bank/credit card statement, adding each expense to the excel sheet. This is also useful to check the accuracy of automatic withdrawals and to be aware of cashed checks.




In this spreadsheet, the only tab you need to edit is the monthly expenses; everything else is automatically calculated from there.




If you scroll to the last few tabs you will see, Savings and Loan. These are optional if you would also like to keep track of a savings goal and debt repayment. I like having everything all in one place. Plus being reminded of my savings goal weekly is a great motivator.




The Year tab is automatically calculated as well and serves as a great comparison at the end of the year. You might notice that you spend more during the summer or save more during the winter. These patterns are important to learn so you can adjust your budget accordingly the following year.

Accessing A Non-Web-Based Budget

While I have always preferred using an excel sheet for my budget, even after using Mint and other web-based budgeting applications, I disliked its fixed location.

Then I discovered DropBox. As I have written before DropBox allows you to sync files on multiple machines. This means I can access my budget file on my netbook, home pc, work and my iPhone – since I have the DropBox application installed on all of them. Whenever I update the file, the other versions sync automatically so one is never out of date and I always have access to my budget.

Live and Learn

Remember, a budget is a living document. If you continuously go over a certain category, ask yourself why this is happening and do not be afraid to increase your budget allocation for a particular category. This just means you will have to decrease your allocation in another category. Learning how to prioritize is key to taking responsibility of your finances.

Readers…

What is your budgeting tool of choice?


20 Comments

  1. eemusings says:

    I have endless admiration for people who can use Excel. *bows*

  2. Toni says:

    I just found your blog and its great. Really like your budget template and will try it out. I’ve been thinking of doing a PF blog for awhile to hold myself accountable for getting out of debt/savings and excess spending. Thanks for the motivation!

  3. MoneyMaus says:

    I use Excel and will never use anything else! I like how you use Dropbox to sync everything up…when I get an iPhone in the near future, I’ll definitely want to do the same. (I just update my budget on my personal laptop.)

    • leslie says:

      I use the Dropbox syncing more so at work than anywhere else. It is nice to be able to update my budget immediately on the rare occasions I do eat out for lunch.

  4. Brendan says:

    Nice budget. As always once a year is a good time to adjust these things. Excel is the best tools for budgeting needs…

  5. Diane says:

    Surely you have car insurance and Netflix inverted. Otherwise you much spend 24-hours a day watching video!

    It’s similar to mine, although I have variable income, so some months no income and some months a lot. I just track my minimal target budget, and everything above that is savings.

    • leslie says:

      Good catch! Not all of those are the numbers I use. I just wanted to provide reasonable examples for people to get started.

      I am always impressed by those who handle variable income. The thought of it makes me nervous!

  6. Diane says:

    Erp…I meant “you MUST spend 24-hours a day,” not “you MUCH spend 24-hours a day.” Reminder, don’t post when hungry…

  7. Liz says:

    I use Mint. It’s not perfect, but I like the fact that it automatically downloads my transactions from my bank account. I check it every day.

    However, at the end of this year, I did export all my data from Mint to Excel to do some analysis on the year’s income and expenses. It was a good year. :)

  8. Evan says:

    I don’t really budget since I know I am spending less than I am earning, but I just started using an excel spreadsheet to keep track of net worth.

  9. Diane says:

    @Evan: For many years I stopped budgeting as I was earning way more than I spent. But in the past two years of down economy I started again. And I discovered that the simple act of just tracking stuff gets me to spend less. So now that my income is back, I am still doing it. It’s a great tool at keeping myself honest and helping me boost savings.

  10. Evan says:

    @Diane,

    You make an excellent point. I haven’t done a review of fixed costs in a long time. Damn it another project LOL

  11. I just started using Excel at the beginning of the month. I’ve broken my expenses down into categories and next to each item I have the amount I’ve budgeted and the amount I’ve spent so far. I have formulas so the monetary amounts add and subtract automatically. I put in what I’ve spent every day so I can know exactly how I’m doing, and how much I have left. I’m new to Excel, but I like what I’ve done with it so far. Breaking things down by fixed/non-fixed costs is a good idea. I made the first spreadsheet at the beginning of the month then I tweaked it for the next paycheck; hopefully in the next few paychecks I’ll nail down a template.

  12. Alex says:

    This is by far one of the most convenient budgeting tools I’ve encountered. Downloaded and am in the process of filling out January and adjusting it a little to my needs. Thank you!

    I’ve used both a very thorough and complicated Excel sheet, which I’ve been tweaking for years now (literally). But my preferred method of calculating ongoing daily expenses is goode olde pen & paper.

  13. [...] I still keep my budget and in fact, am glad that I practiced tracking my expenses when I did. Now, budgeting is an automatic behavior. Even though my mind is consumed with other thoughts, I still complete my monthly budget. [...]

  14. [...] your current budget, or create a new one if you don’t already have one (but you should!) and start plugging in a few increased rent [...]

  15. Jerome says:

    I like this. It fits perfectly with my expenses. Makes me realize just how little I save. Thanks.

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