Family Budget Planning Worksheet

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Do you wonder where your money goes… or do you tell it where to go?

Helping you budget your money

Creating a handwritten budget from scratch before attempting to use an existing software or spreadsheet can deliver extra flexibility when forming your first budget. Before using this spreadsheet it may be useful to create a paper budget from the ground up.  No spreadsheet… no software. Once you get the hang of your handwritten budget, turn it into a spreadsheet so you can take advantage of the calculations and ease of monthly reproduction.

That’s what I did.

What follows is a brief history of my budget, followed by the budget worksheet in 3 usable formats with sectional instructions for use.

From handwritten to electronic

I did handwritten, and it worked great. Manually forming the structure of my budget was necessary, but once the foundation was solid it was time to move to a system that enabled me to easily and quickly fill in each and every month.

Slowly I began developing a spreadsheet to capture the simplicity and function of our handwritten budget, but with the added bonus of auto-calculations and ease of monthly budget reproduction. It’s far easier to fill in the monthly numbers, save them, and print them out than to rewrite it every 30 days.

Looking to buy software? If you prefer a software solution to the handwritten or spreadsheet approach… I recommend You Need A Budget.

Use the budget planning worksheet

If you just want to grab it and go… here is the spreadsheet.  If you want or need explanations of sections, please scroll down to the explanation section of this post.
I have included 3 versions: Google docs version, Microsoft Excel version, and OpenOffice version.

Google Docs version

Microsoft Excel version

OpenOffice version

Budget spreadsheet breakdown

Generic information

A budget is a living document, constantly changing, adapting, and growing to better reflect where and how you spend and save your money.  Do not try to make everything perfect… just get it done, then work on tweaking it from month to month.  If you think it will be perfect in one month you will likely work yourself into a tizzy and soon stop budgeting altogether.  Sound familiar?  Patience young budgeting Jedi… I was once in your shoes too.  You can master this budget – just be patient and faithfully work it month in and month out.  I promise the rewards are worth the time and effort.  🙂

All sections have 3 fields – Projected, Actual, and Difference – they are what they are.

  • Projected = the amount you input  in each category at the beginning of the month.  Remember, don’t try to be perfect here – if you are unsure of an amount, make an educated guess and move on to the next category.
  • Actual = the amount you enter at the end of each month… after the money is spent.  This should be exact and based on actual hard numbers.  To better keep track of what you spend consider keeping a spending journal – we do – it is an essential way to track discretionary spending.
  • Difference = the amount your projected amounts differ from the actual amounts.  We use the information in these fields to continually tweak how much money goes where.

I have put input some “example numbers” and have only created one sheet labeled “January.”  I encourage you to tweak your fields and numbers then duplicate the sheets to include every month of the year.  I could have included 12 sheets, one for every month, but then you would just be faced with changing all the fields on each sheet manually anyway… so make your changes to January then duplicate the sheet for each month of the year.  To do this, look at the bottom of the spreadsheet screen and find where it says “January.”  Now click on that and choose “Duplicate.”  Once you have duplicated the sheet now click that new tab and choose “Rename.”  You can either create all 12 tabs for the year in advance or just do them as each new month is beginning… I choose to do the latter in an effort to avoid having to change all future sheets if I make a simple field adjustment.


This section is pretty self explanatory – just make sure you include all sources of income including monthly bank interest, dividends, gifts of money, and money you make working any side jobs (a.k.a. “side hustle”.)


This is where you record all accounts you currently have as savings for the future including, bank accounts, CDs, mutual funds, etc.  Your projected and actual amounts in this category are easier to nail down because you have direct control over how much you are saving each month.  I advise you to set savings goals, create multiple savings accounts (either on paper for tracking purposes or literally as I do in my Capital One 360 account) and then set up monthly auto transfers of specific amounts to each account.  Automation is key when it comes to saving money!  Remember… it’s your money – pay yourself first!

Fixed Non-Monthly Savings

This is an awesome section of the spreadsheet and one you are not likely to find anywhere else.  To populate the fields in this section, do the following:

  • Make a list of all your non-monthly expenses that are fixed amounts.  For example, auto insurance, auto plates and registration, association dues, professional dues (like union dues), 1/4 of beef, magazine subscriptions, etc.
  • Calculate the yearly amount each of these expenses costs you, add them together and divide by 12.  For example:  if the combined yearly total of all your non-monthly expenses is $3,300 – your monthly amount to save will be $225.
  • Do the calculation for each expense (or group of expenses) and enter that as a field in this section of the spreadsheet, like the sample data I put in the spreadsheet template.

Later in the spreadsheet you will find the Fixed Non-Monthly Expenses section.

Expenses Section – Rather than setting up a simple “expenses” category, I broke expenses down into five different categories to better track and manage them.  Auto pay, manual pay, fixed non-monthly, cash envelopes, and other (or left overs.)

Auto Pay Bills

The first section of expenses is auto pay bills.  I encourage you to use the power of automation for as many financial transactions as possible – when it comes to personal finances… automation = success.  Bills that are friendly to automation are bills that have static amounts and static due dates each month.  If the amounts are not changing and the due dates are not changing… then set up automation.  Look at it this way – every automated bill is one less bill you have to worry about!

Always set up automation through your bank… not through your debtor.  I never give a debtor direct access to my accounts –  if at all possible, neither should you.

Manual Pay Bills

Here you will enter monthly expenses with fluctuating payment amounts.  You know that you have to pay it every month… you just don’t know exactly what the amount will be.  Examples that fit into this category are gas and electric, sewer, water, etc.  Don’t worry about getting these projection amounts perfect, just enter in an average.  What I did was to go back 12 months for each expense, found the average, then entered that as my projection amount.  Some months it is too high, and some months it is too low, but this way I always have the extra money in my account when needed.

Fixed Non-Monthly Expenses

This section is directly related to the Fixed Non-Monthly Savings section detailed above.  In these fields simply record each fixed non-monthly expense as it comes due.  This is a GREAT way to keep track of – and stay on top of – bills that are due at irregular intervals.  Without using this system you risk being hit with “surprise” expenses that can ruin your budget.  Using this system provides you with a solid solution to those budget busting problems!

Cash Envelopes

This is one of our new favorite categories!  You can take this section and really make it your own.  My advice is to use cash envelopes for spending categories that constitute random spending… like groceries, dining out, entertainment (like movies, etc), clothing, and the biggest one… miscellaneous.  The power of using cash envelopes cannot be readily explained… it is something you cannot understand until you implement it into your own life.  Want my advice?  Do it… and do it now.  From the very fist day we started using cash for specific purchase categories we saw an immediate change in how we felt about the purchases.  There is just something painful about seeing the cash slip out of your wallet and into the hands of another!  This concept is especially powerful for your random spending habits – when implemented properly, it will help you reign them in quickly… I promise!

Other Expenses

Last but not least, the infamous “other expenses” category.  This is where you will lump together any expenses that do not readily fit into any of the previous categories.  Make sure you try to put expenses in one of the above categories first, but if the do not fit, put them here as a last option.  Most of the time, but not always, the expenses that end up with here will be non-monthly and non-fixed expenses.  A lot of times you will have no way of knowing when the expenses will come due, nor how much they will be.  Some examples are, doctor, gifts, house expenses, gas, etc.  You will basically take any left over categories, put them here, and project their costs as closely as you can based on past experience.

The Summary

This is what it is… just a big summary of your income, savings, and expenses in one quick view.  I’m not sure how useful it is, but I know some people like to see it so I included it.

Make the budget worksheet your own

Remember… your budget is a living document – expect it to change over time.  Do not focus on making every calculation perfect… your accuracy will improve over time.  For now just focus on using the spreadsheet faithfully each month and don’t be afraid to make it your own.  The categories and amounts I put in are just examples… if you customize it to your situation you increase sustainability of future use.

If budgeting is a problematic behavior for you… using this spreadsheet will give you a fresh perspective and hopefully help you finally nail down a solid spending plan for your unique situation.

You can wonder where your money goes, or you can tell it where to go!

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1 Kate

Thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to get started!
I have been working off a budget spreadsheet that one of my friends created, but this is so much better.

2 Matt Jabs

Awesome Kate, glad you like. Using this system has helped us gain great control over our finances. We used to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Now… we tell our money where to go and LOVE it!

3 Phil

Thanks for this spreadsheet! Earlier I was working with a simple jot down of all my expenses at the back of my agenda book but now this might be more efficient and organized!

4 Joe Plemon

Thanks for sharing this budget form. I want to ditto your recommendation of the envelopes. People just don’t know how well this simple technique controls their spending until they try it.

5 Olivia

Thanks Matt.

I’m of the old school, you know the handwritten budget type. Perhaps this is the time to make the switch. And you’re absolutely right about the cash envelopes.

PS Thanks about the reminder to trust God for the future. We’re not in debt, but things are always close. We do what we can. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.

6 Matt Jabs

Yeah, I hear you Olivia… sometimes nothing beats a pen & paper! I used that method to form what we have now, and putting it into spreadsheet format just makes things that much quicker for my wife and I… plus now I can play with the data (I’m a total numbers geek!)

And you’re right… each day has enough trouble of its own – thank God he is there for us! 🙂

7 Victoria

Hi! I was looking at your “Budget Spreadsheet – A Simple Family Solution” and i think it is just great. It didn’t leave any information out, yet didn’t put too much in, the colors aren’t distracting, and it looks very neat. I have a suggestion/question. I was thinking it would be better to somehow separate money recieved from money given, like putting income and savings on one column and expenses on the other, or separating the two categories by color? My question was maybe they were organized in the manner that they were for another reason more critical than received vs. given money?
Either way, the “MONTHLY BUDGET SUMMARY” at the end sums it up very well. Just thinking

8 Mom

Thanks Matt, for the spreadsheet! I have been waiting for MONTHS for you to post it! I have a category in my spreadsheet that was in serious danger of being deleted, called “Matt’s Inheritance”! 🙂 Seriously, I think its great! I will get started right away. And, I did use a link from your site the other day to open another ING orange savings. So, thanks for that too!

9 Matt Jabs

Go mom! You better believe I’m going to check up on you to make sure that you are actively using the budget spreadsheet. 🙂

10 Benjamin

Hey Matt. Great website, and great looking budget spreadsheet! I’ve been working on a spreadsheet system of my own and hope to get it post on my blog next week sometime! Keep up the good work fighting the debt!

11 Matt Jabs

Sounds good, I don’t know if it’s possible to have too many spreadsheets! 🙂

12 Patrenia

Hey Matt, this is great! I also went through the same process (starting with paper and pencil). I switch to using an excel spreadsheet a few years back and have NEVER looked back. I did try a couple of months ago a budgeting software, but for some reason it just didn’t work for me. So back to excel I went :-).

13 Matt Jabs

Yeah, for me budgeting software is usually overkill… and I REALLY liked pen & paper, the only reason I switched was for ease calculations & reproduction.

14 cyrene boston

nice post..thanks for the info..i wanna share this site too..
feel free to visit..

15 H Anderson

Thanks for this extremely useful spreadsheet. My colleagues at work saw it and got their copies too.

16 Ross

Hi, thanks for your excellent post. I particularly found your advice to handwrite a budget first prior to using a standard excel or other standard spreadsheet a great value idea. Each of us has very different financial committments & jumping into trying to fill in a standard form may cause one to ommit vital expenditure.

17 Chris Chase

Great post!

I’ve been looking for ways to economize and when my cell contract was up, I got a Net10 phone. I pay 10¢ a minute and 3¢ for texts. It’s a terrific value and there’s no contract or overages.

Highly recommended!

18 Frank Lee

I agree with Chris. The sevrice is wonderful and the savings are nice, too. It’s amazing that people still sign contracts to use a phone. No contract and big savings. Love my Net10 phone!!

19 Julie Pickett-Hall

I love your template! I’ve been using the spreadsheet for a while, and have added a page with yearly total formulas across sheets with percentages of expenses for each category. It’s not perfect, because the sheet name has to already exist for the yearly formulas to work, but it might make a nice update for your template. I can show you how to whip it up if you’re ever interested.

20 Matt Jabs

Awesome to hear Julie, I’m glad the template has been helpful. God bless.

21 Amelia Johnson

I’ve been using a handwritten budget for ages because all the software I’ve come across has always seemed to over-complicate everything.
Discovering your template tempted me to give it a try and I haven’t looked back since. It’s simple, easy to use and it’s helped me to get an even better handle on my household budget.

22 Beckey

I think that it would be helpful to have a section for things such as car values, etc…I know many people track these also. Thanks for the great spreadsheet! I’ve already shared it with my friends & family.

23 Kristen

Thanks for the Budget Spreadsheet Matt! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get everything in order and this is going to help a lot. And by the way-I LOVE cash envelopes! My mom taught me how to do that when I was little and I’ve been doing it every since.

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