Sorry this is kind of late but I’ve had a ton on my plate the last few days. The biggest part of that has been getting my syllabus and lesson plans in line for my fall macroeconomics class over at Bay Path College. I’m pretty excited about teaching this semester I must say!
I see a ton of stuff on the web, in person, and in stores that fall under the personal budget product umbrella. I know that recently I talked about a few different online resources you can use to help keep your finances in order. Today I wanted to share one of my favorite Excel based budgeting systems that I’ve come across with. Now, there are a couple of things that go into what I think makes a great (free) budget template. It needs to be functional, easy to use, look half-way decent, and time efficient. I love to see things with a splash of color too, as I stare at a computer screen all day and typing can get kind of two-tone if you know what I mean. Biggest things though again are the functionality and ease of use. If you have a tool that you can’t effectively navigate then odds are you won’t be updating it on a regular basis.
Before we go on I want to talk a little about honesty. It doesn’t matter what kind of tools you use to keep track of where your money goes. If you aren’t honest with yourself and your system you’ll only get flawed out-puts and projections. Garbage in = garbage out. That applies to goals too. I am almost a romantic when it comes to setting goals. I would rather shoot for the moon and fall a little short than shoot for the gutter and make it. That being said there has to be some goals or at least benchmarks in your moon-shooting to keep your goals grounded. This absolutely applies to a budget. Having big goals and lofty dreams is great just make sure you have the short and midterm markers to aim for a long the way.
So without further adieu this is my favorite excel based model. If you click on the picture it should take you to a link:
Now just like with any excel spreadsheet that you download, you can either use it as or play around with the formulas. You can also change the labels of the inputs so that the budget more accurately reflects your personal situation. Out of all the budgets I came across in my searches I liked this one best – not to mention there’s a bit of color in there too.
Discipline. You need to have discipline with a lot of things in life. When you want to lose weight or stay fit you have to be disciplined about hitting the gym. Budgeting is just like that. The one thing that I don’t like about a budget like this is that you can’t update it on the go as it is based locally on whatever machine you put it on. So staying discipline is of utmost importance because if you start to waiver in the accuracy and determination on meeting your goals the budget will fail.
If you were looking for more of a complete system and still in the realm of a localized program I have just the suggestion for you. One of my favorite non-cloud based programs is You Need A Budget (YNAB). It’s still pretty excel based, or at least it looks and feels like it. There is a ton of functionality that helps you drive down through your numbers to pull out some pretty interesting graphics and metrics. Give the link a click above and it will take you to Amazon to find a little more about it. Let’s just say YNAB gets my financial planner stamp of approval..if I had a stamp it would anyway.