I tried out some free resources from fellow bloggers to see if any of them could revolutionise the way I budget in 2017, or at least give me some much needed inspiration. I did most of my searching through Pinterest, having recently discovered that it is the source of all knowledge for topics such as budgeting / lifestyle / money. It is better than Google for finding like-minded individuals who are on your level.
I found that when it comes to budgeting, most people are looking to get out of debt first and foremost. Which is such an amazing thing to be doing, I am overwhelmed by the amount of debt people have. I myself have some comparatively small debts to pay off, but my main aim is to save up for a house deposit, so that is what I am looking for help with in the main. (I realise when I have bought said house I will also be in a lot of debt!).
Here is a quick look at a handful of useful tools that are all free to download. If you’re looking for a budgeting tool, I’m sure there is something in the list below that suits your needs.
The Budget Binder
There is a wealth of free printables available online, a common one being variations of the ‘budget binder’. I love writing things down and have an obsession with cute notepads and diaries, but the budget binders encourage you to complete your budget every month, sometimes weekly, or tick off your bill payments each time. I trust my direct debits are going out each month so I think the important thing for me is understanding what I have left to budget with after all of my outgoings. How much money do I have to spend on food, social, and MOST importantly, how much can I afford to put into my savings. And, is there an easy way to track what I am really spending, vs. what I budgeted.
For some it might be really helpful to write out your monthly outgoings each time, it does give you a sense of purpose and reminds you of your commitments (I know I have written them down a fair few times only to discover, shock horror, that my outgoing bills are not going down anytime soon). The budget binders below include pages which would be really useful for the first time you analyse your financial status. Some of them also include really cute graphics for visualizing your goals, whether that’s going down in your debt, or going up in your savings!
Sign up with your email address, receive your confirmation email, and once confirmed you will receive an email with the printable to download. This printable is probably the simplest of these examples, it’s super easy to use and I love the idea of writing down your goal for the month.
Once signed up to Frugal Fanatic you also get access to a whole bunch of useful resources in her library (particularly helpful as I had a baby shower to attend this weekend!). The financial goals page is a great way to keep yourself motivated, and the ‘Holidays and Observances 2017’ page is a nice idea to keep track of any major expenses you know about upfront, for example I need to plan for my best friend getting married in October! Pop it on the calendar. I probably wouldn’t use the Monthly Bill Payment Tracker or the Debt Paydown due to the reasons behind my budgeting goals, but still super useful tools for others.
Again, register to download and it’s super easy to find. Cents + Order use the Monthly Bill Checker tool to tick off your bills each month, this seems like a popular sheet on many Budgeting printables. There is also a page that asks you to document your bills by due date, which would be a great way to track WHEN money is leaving your account, not just how much. It also includes sheets for a calendar which could be used to write down what you spend each day. I’m currently doing this in my daily diary (love it when I can write £0!!!) and then when I get chance, totting it up and adding it to my spreadsheet.
If you search budgeting on Pinterest you will find a whole host of free tools and advice, these are just a couple that stood out for me and were among the easiest to find and download. The research into printables has given me some extra inspiration, but I am far too lazy to be doing calculations each week on what I have spent out of my budget. I currently use a spreadsheet to do this for me, so I went on the search for some free Excel templates to see if I could improve on my own. There must be an easier way!
This Budget Spreadsheet from What’s up Fagans has a pretty helpful guide on how it works and how to use it for you. What’s nice about downloading an Excel template is that you can switch the currency and change the names of your outgoing to suit you. This one includes a sheet for each month, so if you have some consistencies in your income and outgoings, I would advise copying this a few months in advance before filling in the changeable info for the month. Love the feature that advises if you are over or under budget – I am definitely going to find that helpful!
So simple to use and there is a link to directly download this spreadsheet from their site. Nothing revolutionary on here but that’s what’s great about it, it does the job you need it to do and the formulas are there ready for you to pop your ingoings and outgoings into. Excel will do the hard work for you.
If like me you want something more bespoke to you, Quick Quid have a handy guide on setting up a simple budgeting spreadsheet yourself. And I found ‘Excel Formulas and Functions for Dummies’ text book super helpful (which a colleague bought me as a joke present but I actually love it)!
Whilst doing this research and trialing some of the resources available I have come up with a pretty comprehensive list of what I think I need in a budgeting tool. My next step will be to take all these learning and see if I can create a tool bespoke to my needs which I can then make available for you guys.
If you have any tips or advice for me, please comment on this post! I’d love to hear from you, that’s what blogging is all about after all. I’ll be updating the blog with my progress so join me on my endeavour by clicking follow. I am looking forward to connecting with like minded people in the budgeting community xx