The only budget worksheet you need RIGHT NOW!
The first question that many people face when they hit rock bottom and decide that change is needed is “Okay, so now what?” In our previous posts “The day we woke up with $107,000 in debt” and “How we plan to pay off $107k in debt in 3 years!”, you learned a few key lessons:
- We (being Alyssa and Ryan) started with A LOT ($107,000+ ) of debt weighing us down – Our monthly minimum payments were $1,776, more than our rent and utilities combined!
- We made a plan to be rid of the debt within 3 years.
- Alyssa and I are committed to working together as a team to ensure our success.
Today, I want to talk about the actual steps we are taking and introduce a tool that I created that makes our weekly budget discussions a breeze, even for someone whose eyes glaze over at the sight of a spreadsheet full of data. Nine years ago, I got my first apartment and full-time job and was responsible for paying my bills, and I began dreaming about the future.
I was always trying to find a tool that would allow me to see the financial impact of different jobs, expenses, savings plans, and even investment returns. The internet is a wonderful resource, and I found a ton of helpful calculators to help with one or maybe two of my categories at a time, but never one that met all of my needs in the same place. It was at that moment that I started work on my first Budget.
Okay. Breathe. I just said it, the b-word, but everything is going to be fine. A budget shouldn’t have to be scary and it definitely doesn’t need to be hard to use. Duke University defines a budget as “an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period.” Adding “It’s an invaluable tool to help you prioritize your spending and manage your money—no matter how much or how little you have.” source: What is a budget and why is it important?
Your budget can be as unrestrictive or limiting as you choose; the key is making yourself aware of your income and being committed to spending less than you earn. Easy, right?! Even if you’re a total screw-up like me, chances are you can still do better than congress! In 2016, the U.S. Government spent $587 billion (that’s $587,000,000,000) more than it collected in taxes, bringing the total outstanding debt to $18.96 trillion. And I thought our $107,000 was bad. source: The Federal Budget in 2016: An Infographic
So I took it upon myself to build the calculator that I wanted in Excel. I’ve used it ever since, and our first tool is finally ready to be unleashed to the public! In just a minute, I’ll let you know how you can get your hands on the Just Another Dollar Budget Wizard. Having this workbook at our disposal has made budget conversations so much easier since we can “run the numbers” on any major purchases or budget category changes instantly and see how it affects our bottom line.
All you need to get the conversation started is a copy of your latest paycheck stub and a good estimate of your household spending. We use Mint.com to keep track of all our spending; it makes evaluating our budget each month super easy! Some other helpful tools you might consider include websites like You Need a Budget or Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar.
What you need to do to get this easy-to-use Budget worksheet is enter your email below and I’ll send it your way! What makes our simple worksheet better than most I’ve found is that it allows you to fully tailor your income and expenses to your own personal situation. Whether your household has one income or two, our budget wizard is fully customizeable without being too complicated. Stop trying to do your family budget with a worksheet that doesn’t quite fit; download our Just Another Dollar Budget Wizard today!
Real-world Example: Just Another Dollar.
Now for a little show-and-tell! The instructions tab included in your download will walk you through the exact process we used to set up our first budget together. In 11 simple steps you will have a complete picture of your monthly finances.
We used Mint to come up with our average monthly spending on things like food, utilities, and gas. Simply enter the Trends module, choose to display “by Category” and take a look at your monthly spending by category! In our case, I set the time range to cover three months and averaged the cost to get a more accurate estimate.
Once you’ve completed the instructions, you should come up with your finished product! Below you can see a screenshot of our exact monthly budget. How do you compare?
A future release will include the savings, debt, and retirement calculation tables that allow us to project how soon we can pay off debt given potential raises or other factors. We can even project our net worth to estimate how long it’ll take us to reach Millionaire status (hint: it’s not that long). Having the visual reference is key for me to stay motivated day-to-day; if I ever need a morale boost I open the workbook and see that if we stick to the plan we can retire early and achieve the life of our dreams.
What do you think? Do you use a budget to plan your family’s spending monthly?