Admittedly, I overthink our budgets. I get board and I tweak them or think of a new approach to saving money or paying off debt. Or, worse yet, I find a new tool online and have to revise everything using it. But one thing has been the same for almost 15 years. My Budget Workbook. My best friend’s dad passed it along to me while I was in college and dealing with some credit card debt. I’ve added to the original simple spreadsheet with a number of tabs with pieces I’ve collected over the years.
- The “Month” Tab – This sheet tracks our income and expenses for each month. I normally duplicate it and create one workbook for each year. It lets me look at the month in review and helps me populate the next tab.
- The “Past Summary” Tab – I use the information from the “Month” tab to update this sheet on a monthly basis so we can keep the average spend for each category up to date. I use that average to update the estimated expenses each month or rein in our spending (I need to work on the latter). It’s helpful for keeping our spending in check.
- The “Savings” Tab – I use this to track our progress towards our emergency savings, though you could use it for any savings goal. It helps me to see how much money I need to save each month to reach specific goals.
- The “Debt Payoff” Tab – Currently, this is the most important tab. We have a couple of car loans we’re trying to payoff and this sheet allows me to put our extra income for each month towards the loan amount and calculates the payoff for me. I know, Mint.com has a tracker like this, but that only allows you to pay the same amount toward the loan each month, it doesn’t allow you to make different payment amounts. This one works better for us because our payment amounts vary month to month.
You can see my Budget Workbook, in case you don’t win the Power ball tonight.