Create a Simple Budget in 15 Minutes

I created a budget for every single paycheck in the last 10 years, without exception. It changed my life! Just like that, I went from someone who doesn’t know where his money is going to a great saver.

Saving money is not in the scope of this post, but the first step to great budgeting is to make sure that it is consistently balanced : Your income should always be equal or bigger than your expenses.

One of the biggest complaint about budgeting is how much time and effort it takes. Today, I’m going to show you how easy and fast it is to create a simple budget in 15 minutes using Excel Online or Google Sheet.

Expenses

Once your sheet is created, make a list of all the expenses that you will have to pay before your next paycheck in the first column. You could make a monthly budget if you’d like, but in my experience a budget synchronised with your pay-cycle is more efficient and easier to stick to.

Enter the expense amounts in the second column. I include an exact amount when there’s a bill attached to an expense, like for my cable bill. Don’t worry too much about getting a super accurate amount for variable expenses. If you stick to your budget every paycheck, over time, you’ll get better at predicting them.

Now that you have all your expenses it is time to sum them up! Insert a blank new row on top of the first one, and in cell B2 enter the formula below.

In this example, we will have to pay $2,340 in expenses until the next paycheck. Will we have enough money (suspense)!?

Splitting expenses

In this example I included rent in the budget because I assumed that it should be paid in this pay cycle. However, in reality you won’t have to pay rent every paycheck. You most likely will need to set aside some money and combine it with your next paycheck to be able to pay rent.

If that is the case, it may be more convenient to split up your rent to $700 per paycheck instead of $1,400 every two paychecks. You can set aside the $700 in your account, and combine it with the next paycheck to get to $1,400. Bonus : You will have $700 in your pocket two times a year even though you planed that amount for rent (in case you forgot, one year is 26 weeks not 24!)

Income

We will now go through the same process but for incomes. Enter your salary and the one of your partner, and any other income that you will receive before the next paycheck.

Different Pay Cycles

You’re probably wondering when is the best time to do your budget if you and your partner have different pay cycles : At the time of your paycheck or his?

There is no final answer to that question. Just go with what is more convenient for both of you. Also keep in mind that you can always split up incomes the same way that you can split expenses.

Another solution is to do a weekly budget. This may or may not be a solution for you depending on how involve you want to be with budgeting.

Net Income

Now that we have both your expenses and your income, let’s calculate your net income for this paycheck! Calculate the difference in between your income and your expenses in cell E1 :

Congratulations, you have $960 in net income for this paycheck! Keep in mind that this amount should always be equal or bigger than $0. If you see a negative amount in that cell, you should go back in your expenses column and see which expenses you can decrease or eliminate.

Activities

What will you do with your net income? Spend it all (I hope not!?) It is a good habit to pay yourself first, and so we will include savings in the list. We will also include other activities that you intend to do with your money.

As you can see, the total amount of all the activities is equal to the net income. That is a balanced budget.

Conclusion

The good news is that you only have to create this template once, and then reuse this for your next budget. This will speed up your budgeting process by a huge factor. In fact, I’m so used to do my budget using the same sheet that it takes me less than 10 minutes every paycheck.

But wait, it just gets better! You can make a copy of the budget template that I created for this post and use it for yourself.

If you’re not already doing your budget every paycheck, why not try it for a few weeks? I guarantee that it will be worth it!

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