If you've ever got a late fee on a bill you simply forgot to pay, or ended the month running on fumes financially as you didn't plan ahead, you may want to consider creating monthly budget spreadsheet.
Taking control of your finances by setting up a budget spreadsheet puts you in control of your finances instead of them controlling you. It allows you to plan accordingly for the upcoming month's expenses and avoid unhappy surprises later. A spreadsheet is a valuable tool to help you determine your total debt and to create a workable monthly repayment schedule.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- MS Excel or other spreadsheet program
- Copies of all your bills
- A computer
- Online bill pay through your bank.
Do your budgeting work online. Years ago, people kept track of their budgets in ledger books with pencils and kept their receipts in shoeboxes. But today, a plethora of options are available to make budgeting simpler, and better yet searchable. Most computers have a spreadsheet program available in the office tools files.
Gather all your bills and enter data. Get a copy of every credit card statement, utility bill, mortgage payment, insurance bill or any other monthly expense. Open the spreadsheet program on your computer and make headings such as Payee (The company to whom you owe the money) Total Amount Due (Your entire balance on the account) Monthly Payment Due (Your minimum amount due) Amount Paid (If you paid more than the minimum, list it) Date Due (Use the day you need to mail or pay online to make sure it arrives on time) Status (Once paid, mark it so) Format (Did you pay by check or via an online banking program?) Amount Remaining (What your total balance will be after your payment clears) and a miscellaneous column for any additional info, such as (Loan will be paid off in July).
Make a plan. It has been said if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Now that you know exactly how much you owe and when it's due, check your pay schedule and find out when your paychecks will arrive and how they will coincide with your list. Divide your budget into 2 halves of the month, from the 1st to the 15th, and the 16th to the 30th. Take all the bills due in the first half of the month, and plan to pay at least the minimum amount due out of your first half of the month income. Same with the second half of bills and your second half of monthly income. Until you have made the minimum payments on all monthly bills, do not spend any money. Make sure your obligations are met before going out to a movie, or dinner. You deserve a treat, certainly, but you deserve to be out of debt more.
Sign up for online banking. If your bank offers an online bill pay service, sign up for it today. Online banking in conjunction with a budget spreadsheet makes getting your monthly bills paid a snap. Once you are enrolled, take your spreadsheet and go don the list setting up automatic payments for your upcoming bills. If your electric bill is due on the 10th, see how many days your bank takes to process an online payment. Many banks have calendars that say "If you pay by the 3rd your payment will arrive on the 5th." so set payments up accordingly. Banking online means the bank makes the payment for you; you don't have to sit down and write out a pile of checks.
Tips and warnings
- If possible each month, pay bills with 80% of your pay, save 10% and donate 10% to church or charity.
- Check your billing statements each month to ensure due dates have not changed, then update your spreadsheet accordingly.
- When you open new accounts or loans, make sure to add them to your budget spreadhseet.
- Make more than your minimum payments each month if possible to reduce debt more rapidly.
- As your bills get caught up, call credit card companies and ask if they can lower your interest rate.
- Don't get discouraged if you are behind on payments when you first make a budget.
- Don't expect overnight success; it may take months to bring things current, but you can achieve your financial goals if you stick to your budget.