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Your step-by-step guide to making a budget spreadsheet that will actually help you stay in control of your money

Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

One of the first things we’re told when we raise any questions about money management is that we absolutely must have a budget - in fact, it’s something I swear by myself. Budgets don’t have to be restrictive at all, and should exist only to give us visibility of our spending habits, a feeling of control and takes a lot of the stress out of making spending and saving decisions. Sitting down in front of a blank spreadsheet, though, can feel a little daunting - how do you create a system that works for you? How do you manage to keep track of everything?

Here, I’ll show you a simple but really effective way how to make a budget spreadsheet that suits your life - and it shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes:

Step One: Income

The first step in creating your budget spreadsheet is to tally up your income. If you live with a partner and your budget is for the whole household, you can include two incomes, whereas if you manage your finances completely independently, it can be just for you. You might find it helpful, especially if you’re self-employed or have a side hustle, to create weekly columns so that you can see exactly when in the month your money is coming in. List each income source, including your salary, any benefit payments or extra income, on a new row, with a ‘total’ box at the bottom. You can use the SUM formula to make this automatically update.

Step Two: Fixed Outgoings

In a new table, list your fixed outgoings - things that are the same amount each month, and that are non-negotiable, such as your rent, utilities and insurance. Create a new row for each bill, and add the amount to the week it goes out of your account - this is really handy for keeping track of those pesky mid-month direct debits. You can then add a ‘total’ box for this too, using the SUM formula.

Step Three: Variable Outgoings

Underneath, add your variable outgoings - things like food shopping, petrol etc, underneath. This is great for keeping track of weekly costs within your monthly budget, because we often don’t realise how quickly they can add up or how much of our income they can eat away at. You can create a total box here, too.

Step Four: Additional Spending

At the bottom, add your additional spending throughout the month - you can do this daily, weekly or ad hoc according to what works for you. Adding your spending in here will help you to spend in a more considered way, and also to check that you’re not running down your disposable income too quickly.

Step Five: Saving and Paying Off Debt

If you’re trying to save or pay off debt, it’s good to include a separate table for this in your budget. Add the amounts in the same way that you include other expenses and, with saving, try to transfer or set up a standing order right at the beginning of the month, rather than waiting to see what’s left at the end.

Step Six: Totals and the Big Picture

The last thing to do is to pull all of the information together and look at the big picture. Create a small table right at the beginning of your budget, totalling your income, your outgoings and the difference between them. You can then decide where to reallocate any extra, or try to make cuts to get rid of any deficit.

You can then look at your budget as a whole - reflect, make tweaks and consider your spending in order to find a money management method that works for you.

This was originally published on Glamour UK.

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