If you want to be in control of your money and make the most of what you have, maintaining a monthly budget is critical. The idea of creating and living by a budget may seem intimidating if you haven’t done it before, but it really doesn’t have to be that complicated.
I have an article, How to Create a Budget that Works, that walks you through the process of setting up your own budget. Today, I’d like to point you towards some free resources that can make the process even easier.
Below you’ll find a collection of the best budget templates and spreadsheets that make it so much easier for you to create your own personal or family budget, and to keep track of it.
The resources are broken up into a few different categories. First, you’ll find some printable templates that are great if you prefer using a pen and paper, or even creating a binder. Next, you’ll find budget spreadsheet templates that you can use to keep track of your finances on a computer. And lastly, I’ll point out two free apps that can help with creating and managing your budget.
Regardless of your preferences, these free resources can help you to organize your financial life. See my list of budget categories and recommended budget percentages if you need any additional help setting up your budget.
The Best Budget Templates:
In this section, you’ll find the best options for printable budget templates.
1. VitalDollar.com Budget Template
I have created a simple budget template that can be downloaded for free (enter your email address below to get it). The download file includes a PDF template that can be printed on one sheet of paper.
If you prefer to keep track of your budget with pen and paper, simply print the PDF and fill in the details. If you prefer a digital copy, you can fill in the form fields on a computer.
This budget binder from Blooming Homestead is a really amazing free resource! The binder includes a few different printables including a weekly ledger, a monthly ledger, a savings ledger, as well as a month at a glance sheet.
What makes this freebie even better is that it comes in three different design styles, so you can pick the one that you like the best. Print it, fill in your details, and you’ll have a handy binder that will help you to keep tabs on your money.
The blog Clean and Scentsible offers this nice printable as a free download. It is a 3-page document with spaces to enter your income for the month, as well as listing all of your budget categories and expenses. It features a nice clean design with an appealing color scheme.
This freebie from Printable Crush includes monthly budget and expense tracking forms. This one features a bright, colorful design. The budget sheet includes a spot for your starting debt and starting balance each month, so you can track those numbers in addition to just your budget.
When you go to the page, scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a download button. Click on that and it will download the PDF file.
This one from Calizfornia is an excellent option for a single-page budget printable. It comes in Google Docs format but can be easily printed. Since it’s a spreadsheet, you can also choose to use the digital version if you prefer that over a printable PDF.
When you go to print the spreadsheet you may need to select “fit to height” in order to keep it on one page. I used that print setting and it worked well.
Freebie Finding Mom has 8 different budget templates that you can download. To get access you’ll need to sign up for her email list, and once you’ve confirmed your subscription by clicking on a link in the confirmation email, you will get a password that gives you access to the download area.
There are a lot of downloads available, and budgeting is just one of the categories. The budget templates give you different options (personal budget, household budget, family budget, and even a wedding budget). Each one comes in PDF format (for printing) and Excel format.
The Best Budget Spreadsheets:
While a few of the options listed above include both a printable version and a spreadsheet, the options in this section are only spreadsheets. If you prefer to keep a digital version of your budget, rather than on paper, this section is for you.
Google Docs has a template gallery that includes a wide variety of templates that you can use for different purposes. That includes both a monthly budget spreadsheet and an annual budget spreadsheet. Of course, you can customize the templates to meet your own needs by adding or removing categories and lines.
J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy offers a free template in both Google Docs and Excel formats. This one has spots for budgeting from two different paychecks, listing your income, listing your savings, tracking credit card balances, and it even has an area for your net worth.
Vertex42 offers a free download for a personal budget template in Excel and OpenOffice formats. The spreadsheet makes it easy to manage your own budget with lots of different categories. You can, of course, change the names of categories as needed.
This spreadsheet includes one column for each month, so you can track your budget for an entire year in one spreadsheet.
Free Budgeting Apps:
In addition to printables and spreadsheets, there are also some apps that include budgeting functionality. There are many different budgeting apps, so I won’t mention them all (but you can see this list of the best budgeting apps). Instead, I’ll highlight two of the top options.
Mint is probably the most popular free budgeting app. It’s been around longer than most of its competitors, and Mint can be used on a desktop or mobile device (apps for both iOS and Android).
With Mint you can create a personalized budget, track expenses, and get alerts (for things like fees that have been charged, upcoming due dates, and going over budget).
The budgeting features are where Mint really shines, in my opinion. However, the bill tracking options are great for keeping your finances organized.
If you’re looking for a free budgeting app, Mint is an excellent choice. (Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar is another option).
Empower is my favorite financial app. It can be used on a desktop or mobile device (iOS or Android). Like Mint, the tools available through Empower are extremely impressive for a free app. However, the two apps have different strengths and weaknesses.
Empower does have some cash flow tools that allow you to manage your income and expenses, but to be honest, this is not what Empower does best. The most powerful and useful functions of Empower include automated net worth tracking (by synching your financial accounts) and investment reports. I highly recommend Empower if those features are important to you, but if you’re strictly interested in a budgeting app, I would recommend Mint.
Now that we’ve covered plenty of options, choose one that works for you and use it to create your own budget.
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