Having a budget is one of the most important things you can do to take control of your finances. Budgeting allows you to track your income and expenses so you know exactly where your money is going each month. With this information, you can make better decisions about saving, spending, and managing debt.
One of the easiest ways to create and manage a budget is with a spreadsheet. Google Sheets, Google’s free online spreadsheet software, has budget template options to choose from. These pre-made templates allow you to plug in your income, fixed expenses, and variable expenses to determine your cash flow. Google Sheets does all the math for you!
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use the Google Docs budget template to manage your personal finances.
Choose a Budget Template
- Open Google Sheets and select File > New > From template gallery
- In the template gallery, search for “budget”
- Select one of the budget template options that fits your needs
- Monthly budget template
- Annual budget template
- Business budget template
Tip: You can always create your own budget template from scratch if you want something more customized.
Enter Your Income
- In the INCOME section, enter all sources of income for the month
- Interest income
- Child support
- Any other monthly income
- If income varies month-to-month, use a conservative estimate or average
List Your Expenses
Categorize expenses as:
- Fixed (the same each month)
- Variable (changes month-to-month)
- Car payment
- Gym membership
- Dining out
Use Formulas to Calculate Totals
The Google Sheets budget template likely already has formulas incorporated to make your life easier. All you need to do is input numbers into the designated cells.
If building your own template, use
SUM formulas to quickly total income, expenses, etc.
Compare Income vs Expenses
Once all your income and expenses are entered, the budget will calculate whether you have a surplus (money remaining) or deficit (overspending) each month.
Use this information to make changes if needed to ensure your expenses align with your income.
Track Spending Throughout the Month
Check your budget routinely by inputting actual spending numbers. This allows you to:
- Identify waste in real-time
- Alter variable expenses if needed
- Confirm fixed expenses are aligned
Tip: Automate expense tracking with a tool like Mint that connects to your bank accounts. Transactions are imported automatically.
Additional Budgeting Tips
- Build an emergency fund with 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses
- Pay down high-interest debt aggressively
- Contribute to retirement accounts
- Only use credit cards if paid off in full each month
- Review your budget monthly and adjust as needed
Using the Google Sheets budget template along with healthy money management habits will lead to reduced stress and greater financial stability. Consistency is key – stick to your budget and continue tracking spending to maintain control.