You probably know how much money you make in an average month, but do you also know how much you spend? If you frequently find yourself at the end of your money with a whole lot of month left, it's time to create a budget. Even careful spenders can benefit from creating a budget, as it will help you learn your financial strengths and areas where there's room for improvement. Don't recreate the wheel, though. If you have Microsoft Excel, you already have access to an ideal budget template.
Round up as many of your monthly bills as you can. You can also look at your bank account or utility and other accounts online to figure out how much your recent monthly bills have been. The key is to have a realistic idea of what you need to include in your budget.
Start Excel. If you use Excel 2003, go to the "File" menu and select "New." For Excel 2007, click the "Microsoft Office Button" and select "New." In Excel 2010, go to the "File" tab and click "New." Type "Household Budget" into the search box and press "Enter." Excel presents a few different templates.
Click on the "Household Monthly Budget" template to select it. Click the "Download" button to load this template into your Excel window. The template opens as a new Excel worksheet.
Fill in the "Projected Monthly Income" cells with any income you or your partner typically receive over the course of a month. Enter an amount for each individual item you expect to pay each month. For bills that are due quarterly or semi-annually, either divide them into monthly payments to plan ahead or simply remember to add them in for those months when they are due. Don't forget to include expenses like entertainment and clothing, as well.
Return to the budget each time you receive a paycheck, pay a bill or make a purchase. It may be easier to save your receipts and enter purchase amounts once a week, or look at your bank register if you solely pay with your debit card. Doing so will give you insight on how much is really coming in and going out, where it is going and changes you can make to give you more financial wiggle room.
Items you will need
- Microsoft Excel 2003, 2007 or 2010
- Save the worksheet with the name of the month each month. Compare your income and expenses as the months elapse.