Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Updated Budget Template

This week was all about budget templates! (Sounds kind of corny, but whatever). My boyfriend and I discussed our respective expense trackers and a friend of mine asked about the budget template I use. My convo and special request got me to thinking about how I could improve my budget template. Here's the new and improved template with notes on how to use it: http://tinyurl.com/budget4sandyx.

Here are a few tips I shared with my friend:
  • The first tab (annual budget) offers a monthly and annual snapshot of your expenses. If you get paid every two weeks and have two "extra" paychecks per year, you can update the formulas accordingly.
  • I prefer to track my expenses based on when I receive my paycheck (every two weeks). You can track based on what's easiest for you (by week, every two weeks, or monthly).
  • The orange categories capture transactions from my checking account, since this is where the bulk of my expenses come from. The green category captures credit card spending. It's a bit subtle, but you'll notice that this tracker assumes that you pay your credit card balance in full (credit card transactions are combined with checking account transactions; both are deducted from your total income).
  • If you use your credit card to make the majority of your transactions (and to earn points, rewards, miles, etc.), you can categorize your credit card spending and change the "credit card transactions" column to "checking account transactions".
  • If it's more helpful, you can move the credit card transactions column next to the "cash transactions" column and exclude it from your "total income - total expenses" category. Doing so will make it easier to reconcile your bank statements with your expense tracker (this is the way I use my tracker). See the third tab for an example of this.
  • The blue/green column (cash) captures transactions you make using cash. In the [orange] ATM/Cash Back column, you're tracking money that has been withdrawn from your checking account. In the separate blue/green column, you're tracking the use of the aforementioned funds after they've been withdrawn.
  • You insert your income (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) in the formula for total income minus total expenses. If you have any funds that carried over from the previous pay period, you can add it to this formula (second tab) or as a line item (third tab).

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