Whether you're single, part of a couple, or even head of a large family, creating a budget is a great way to track expenses and income to keep you on track toward your financial goals. Although a simple home budget worksheet can be scribbled out with plain pencil, paper, and a calculator, today's technology means you have access to many easy-to-use budget templates online.
8 free budget spreadsheets
Many of these budget templates use Excel spreadsheets, but you'll also find a few for Google Docs and OpenOffice. Find the budget template that best suits your financial situation, download it to your computer, and you'll be ready to start better managing your money. Here are eight of the best free budget templates available to download.
Simple budget template
If you're new to budgeting and your expenses are few and easy-to-track, simple is best. This basic monthly budget worksheet comes from My Excel Templates and provides a simple spreadsheet for your monthly and annual budget. This template allows you to customize the pre-populated spending categories to match your lifestyle.
Download this simple budget template. [Excel needed.]
Personal budget template
Microsoft Office offers a free personal budget template that's a great option for singles or couples looking to get started with personal finance budgeting. This template shows a summary of the month's income, expenses, savings, and cash balance, as well as a circle graph showing the percentage of income spent each month.
Download this personal budget template.
Family budget template
Budgeting for a family can be more complicated than budgeting for just one person. This free family budget template from Vertex42 is available for Excel, OpenOffice, and Google Docs. This family budget planner includes categories for various home expenses and for children's expenses, too, so you get a good look at just how much your children cost each month.
Download this family budget template.
Weekly budget template
If you're looking for a free budget planner to track expenses on a weekly basis, this planner from Spreadsheet123 could be just what you need. This weekly home budget template budget is available in Excel, OpenOffice, or Google Docs.
Download this weekly budget template.
Annual budget template
Sometimes it helps to get an overview of your entire year's budget. This editable yearly personal budget template planner from Budget Template presents a calendar year's worth of budgeting information in a horizontal spreadsheet. It also includes categories for dividend and other investment income.
Download this annual budget template.
Household budget template
This Excel household budget worksheet from Vertex42 has space for your household income and expenses, including household-specific expenses such as lawn care, maintenance, and home insurance.
Download this home budget template.
Free budget template with financial snapshot
If you need a budget template that not only tracks your income and expenses but also gives you an at-a-glance look at your current financial situation, this is it. This free budget template, from Budgets Are Sexy, comes with a financial snapshot and is available as both an Excel budget template and in Google Docs format.
Download this financial snapshot template.
Budget template for students
For many students, going away to college is the first time in their lives they'll be solely responsible for managing their own finances. Start out on the right foot with this free downloadable Excel college budget template -- available directly from Microsoft and ready to customize to your own needs.
Download this student budget template.
How to make a budget
If you still feel like you can't find a budget template that's just right, you can always make your own budget. To start, you'll need to track at least two basic categories -- income and expenses. Start by adding up all sources of after-tax income on a monthly basis, as this makes it easier to calculate how much money you have available to meet your expenses, since many of them, such as rent and utilities, are probably billed monthly.
Next, list all of your fixed expenses. These are expenses you already know the amount of, such as:
- Rent or mortgage.
- Insurance payments.
- Car loans.
- Student loans.
- Cable and internet bill.
- Savings contribution.
Then, add in your variable expenses that have amounts that might change monthly, such as:
- Dining out.
- Gas for your car.
Add up all of your income and all of your expenses. If your expenses are greater than your income, it's time to find ways to cut costs. And if you have money left over after all your expenses are paid, you're doing great. You could increase your savings contributions, pay down debt faster, or even consider making a regular monthly charity donation.
No matter what format works for you, the important thing about budgeting is to start now. Getting a handle on where your money goes as soon as possible will give you the information you need to make any necessary changes. Then, you'll be better able to achieve your short- and long-term financial goals.
This article originally appeared at GoBankingRates.