Excel Budgeting Template for Beginners: Take Control of Your Money

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Take control of your money: excel budgeting template for beginners

If you don’t like reading, just download the excel budgeting template here.

Do you know the key to financial freedom? Hint: it’s not having lots of money. If you look at lottery winners, they are twice as likely to declare bankruptcy compared to the national average.

The key to financial freedom is budgeting (with an Excel template in this case). Having a budget shows you exactly where your money goes and where it should go. Most importantly, your budget is the secret to taking control of your money.

And I’m going to show you how to do it in this post.

Why Excel and not an App?

Here’s why I like to use an Excel budgeting template:

  • It’s simple
  • No ads
  • No one’s trying to sell you something
  • I know exactly how everything’s calculated
  • I can customize it however I want

You can download my template here if you want to follow along with the rest of this post.

There’s nothing wrong with using a budgeting app (I also use Mint as a secondary finance tracker). In other words, feel free to use one if that suits your needs.

I just prefer having complete control over the calculations. I also like the peace of mind knowing my budgeting sheet isn’t pressuring me to buy something.

How does the budgeting template work?

The goal of the budgeting template is to show you a recommended budget side by side with your actual spending. In other words, It shows you where you can cut spending or increase spending.

In the spreadsheet, there are only two things you have to input: (1) your take home income and (2) your expenses.

Your take home income goes into the yellow box (C2). You can use any payment period/frequency you want. Then the spreadsheet will calculate a recommendation for how to divide up your money in the middle column of the left box (C6:D18).

These budget recommendations come from Dave Ramsey on his site. If you want, you can change these to adjust for your financial goals and circumstances by just changing the percentage values.

the take home income cell is used to calculate the recommended spending amount in the excel budgeting template

Your expenses go into the cells in the right box (H6:P16). Each row gets added up to a total shown in the right column of the left box (E6:E18).

This shows you your actual spending for this pay period. I colored some of the rows orange to point out areas where spending is more flexible.

input your expenses in the right table and they will be added up in the right column of the left table of the excel budgeting template

Below these tables, I also put in some pie charts. These will give you a visual of roughly how much you spend in each category. This is a good way to compare your actual spending with your recommended budget.

In this example, housing and food spending is a little higher than the budget and a savings amount is missing.

a picture of spending pie charts in the excel budgeting template

Some Suggestions on Making This Work

Set financial goals for yourself

If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to set goals for yourself. Even if that image is only 1 year or 1 month from now. There are no millionaires, executives, or top performers who got to where they are by accident.

For example, maybe you want to pay off debt. Maybe you want to save for an upcoming wedding. Or maybe you just want to save enough to retire at 60. The goal itself isn’t too important. Just make sure that you have a goal so you have somewhere to go.

Not having any goals is like running a marathon and not knowing where the finish line is. If you try to run your races like that, then you will have no idea which way to start running, much less finishing a race.

Here’s a little secret: that’s how we engineers solve problems at Boeing. Start with the target, then solve the problem. Not the other way around.

Keep receipts and document all expenses

A critical component of budgeting is keeping track of all your spending. Otherwise, you will end up asking yourself, “Where did all my money go?”

Forgetting or not including expenses in your budget will make it seem like your spending is well within your budget. However, that will only mask the reality of your spending. This runs the risk of you overestimating how much money you are allowed to spend. Don’t forget to record everything.

I like to use an expense tracker like Mint to record where I spent money. It lets you look over your transactions and you can just add them to your spreadsheet.


I like using my excel budgeting template to help me keep track of where my money is going. I like it because it’s simple, I have total control, and it’s not part of some sales funnel to get me to buy something. So it’s a good way to compare your spending with your own financial goals.

You can download the budgeting template here. If you want to learn more about personal finance and career, consider subscribing below or checking out some of the related articles. Otherwise, no worries, happy budgeting.

Joe Wong

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