Everyone should make a budget. They give you a secure understanding of your financial situation and can help plan for a deficit of funds or ensure that expenditures are below income. Whether you’re looking forward to the next financial year, going on a vacation, or planning a wedding, budgets are there for one thing: to help you make the most of your cash!
Despite the benefits, it’s not hard to imagine why many people don’t make budgets: working with numbers on a spreadsheet or paper can be seen as boring or time-consuming. Neither of these things needs to be true! Open up Google Spreadsheet and get ready to change your life.
Option 1: Use a Template
In Google Spreadsheets, you are given the option of a few templates, two of which are “Annual Budget” and “Monthly Budget”. Both provide easy tools which will help you track your funds.
When opening the Annual Budget, you’ll see a spreadsheet with multiple tabs. We’ll go through each, explain the easy process for using it, and finally discuss how to quickly and thoroughly analyze the results!
On this first tab, enter your starting balance. This may be however much you have in savings, or it could be the maximum amount you wish to spend for the year.
The next tab is for expenses. Simply fill in either how much you spent, or how much you plan to spend in each area:
The next tab is income, and works much the same as expenses:
Finally, once this is finished, you can check out the summary page!
Before looking at the data below, check the graph. It quickly shows you where your income and expenses are, and where your initial balance has ended up.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to ask questions like: where do I want the gray line to end up? If it’s falling, am I okay using up savings this year? If it’s going up, do I want to spend the extra money, keep it the same, or save even more?
If you’re okay with the results, great! If not, it’s time to head to the summary below the graph. Here, you’ll be able to see how you’re spending and earning money. The more you understand about your own cash movements, the easier it will be to figure out what needs to change to achieve your financial goals.
Spreadsheet’s Monthly Budget option looks a bit different, but works generally the same. There are two pages to work with, the first being “Summary”:
Here, you see the change in Starting Balance. Below, you also get a very simple and effective summary of expenses and income.
However, you probably should go to the second page, where the transactions are actually entered:
Once all the information is in place, you’re ready to head back to the summary page. As with the Annual Budget, look at what’s happening to the Starting Balance to make sure you’re where you want to be. If not, there’s no shame in that. Just check your transactions and see what can be done: either lowing expenditures or increasing income. You’ll be back on track before you know it!
Option 2: Make Your Own
If you don’t like the templates that Google provides, you are able to create your own. Both Spreadsheets and Drive offer the ability to create a blank spreadsheet document, at which point you can develop to your heart’s content.
Remember, the most important aspects of a budget are: what money is going out, what’s coming in, and what’s the overall change? From there, you can add all sorts of bells, whistles, and analyses.
If you create a budget for past events, you may need to get help from your bank to remember what was spent/earned. On the flip side, when you’re creating a budget for future events, avoid this issue by keeping track of spent cash!