Budgets should be free. Like fresh air, choice of religion, and water cups at the food court. – Me
We have been using our old Google Docs spreadsheet for over a year now and slowly improved some of its features as we tweaked this and that. We also received some feedback on suggestions to improve. My husband implemented all the reader suggestions in this current revision.
Download the revised budget version here.
I’m not going to pretend I understand any of my husband’s coding gibberish.
⭐ Related Reads:
- How Much Money Does Our Frugality Save? (Spoiler: $56,000+/Year)
- Eat Ugly, Save Money? Imperfect Produce Review (+ FREE COUPON)
- Everything ‘Married…With Children’ Did That Kept Them Poor
Revisions to The Frugal Gene’s Budget Sheet
*Combined the separate monthly summary pages into one single page in a single selectable month. It makes things less cluttered looking.
*Split out income and expenses to separate tabs. Before they were on one page and there was a lot of scrolling back and forth on the page. Plus, when you used the search function, it searched both expenses and income which was unnecessary. Now it’s on a separate sheet for ease.
*Added accounts tracking. Previously, it was done by payment method but now it tracks balances on accounts so you can confirm that everything has been entered correctly. You can also track the balance on accounts.
*Before we didn’t have any tracking on paying off credit card and now there is tracking between transfers to demonstrate that. It tries to track account balance which is more accurate.
*Removed the starting balance and ending balance because it was terribly confusing before. Now it is simply called “Net Saves” (Green Box).
*The ability to rename months without breaking the sheet if you prefer to look at them in non-English languages such as French or Spanish.
*Introduction of “smart average” which ignores months before you started tracking or that is not yet tracked in order to give you a more accurate average of your spending than just the regular average. The regular average is simply divisible by 12 (months a year total) which isn’t accurate if you were, say only in the month of June.
Download the revised budget version here.
Sample Budget Categories
It was my gig to use it and check for any parts that would be confusing or unnecessary. After we finalized and uploaded, I realized we were missing sample budget categories. We were editing on our master sheet which was full of data and forgot that the working template itself was set to blank.
For a functioning budget, the categories of where your money will be registered going to are critical. It’s not as easy as jotting down food, transportation, rent, child care, etc. In order to jump start on a strong foot, you need accompanying categories that work for your budget.
Everyone has different urgencies for categories so I thought it might be even better without a pre-populated list. I decided to include a suggested categories post instead for more customization. There is no rule on organization but it would be good to place the higher expenses near the top and go down from there.
Master List of Basic Personal Finance Budget Categories
Housing & Shelter
If it was responsible for getting you from point A to point B then it goes under transportation. This is usually the 2nd highest budgeted category in an average American’s budget. (Although, me = El Cheapo, thinks it should never be.) A general rule of thumb….if the thing goes ‘vrooom vrooooom!!’ then it’s probably under transportation (except husbands).
*Car Maintenance & Repairs (Oil change etc.)
*Tires (Tire chains, etc.)
*DMV Fees & Licensing
*Things (Car deordizers, leather seats upgrades, windshield wipers.)
Food & Dining Out
If it goes in your mouth and tastes good, then it’s probably food. I’m on the fence about cigarettes and pot under groceries but it’s really a personal call.
*Beverages (Redbull, alochol, etc.)
This is the category that I personally detest the most. Depending on where you live, these little utilities and recurring bills could really eat away at the bottom line. Always pay extra attention to these!
If it touches your body and makes you feel beautiful then it goes in personal care (except husbands). If it trims something ugly and unholy off you then it goes in personal care too.
Medical & Health Care
May you never have to deal with most of this on the list but it’s good to come prepared with a category anyway. Always set aside some rainy day money because most of these below are EXPEN$$IVE.
*Emergency Urgent Care
*Misc. Care – (podiatrist, optometrists, etc.)
*Toiletries (Napkins, kitchen towels)
*Cleaning Supplies (Trashcan liner, compost bags, etc.)
The level of spending could possibly push some of these sub-categories into areas that pertain more towards fun money depending on each specific person’s financial situation but in general, entertainment includes (at least in our case) new computers, headphones, and board games.
There is no definition of free money besides the amount you allot for yourself and whatever you want to do with it. Nothing wrong with having some “extra” money to blow off steam if you can afford it. The keyword is ‘afford.’
*New Car Fund
Giving doesn’t have to come with a plan, make room in your budget for spontaneous giving as well as donations, tithing, and supporting your beloved content creators.
*Holiday & Birthday Occasions
Having a family comes with a set of costs too and this category is a less commonly discus during the budget set up the process but it’s necessary to track these expenses if you have them.
I sometimes catch myself concerned with the overall education quality of public schools, especially in cities with poverty and funding issues. No one can deny that kids are indeed very expensive
Sometimes special occasions like Valentine’s Day sneaks up on you so tracking this category will give you a better idea what will eventually happen again. (Not sure if everyone knows this but Christmas and New Years happens every year. Around the same time too!)
*Holidays & Birthdays
*Everything else (identity theft protection, that time I had to buy a rope because it’s generally good to have a rope around, fridge magnets, clips for chip bags etc.)
Note: Woop! That was a lot of categories and things to consider. No wonder saving money might not come easy, look at the number of things tugging at your dollar for attention! This is more reason why everyone needs a budget so download the revised budget version here or get started going traditional with a pen and paper. They’re both good as long as you’re tracking where your money is going.
Adding More Categories
You can insert some new lines by right-clicking on the row numbers to the left and inserting a new line.
If you insert new lines on the setup page somewhere in between the first mauve row and the last mauve row, the functions that make the other pages work will find it correctly. Note that if you insert a new line just after the last mauve row, it may look correct, but the values for it won’t update on the other sheets.
If you’re adding more lines, you may also need to insert new lines in the appropriate sections of the monthly and annual summary pages. If the calculations don’t work for any of the new lines, you should be able to copy paste from one of the working rows in the same section without needing to make any additional changes.
Financial Freedom Starts With Saving:
Personal Capital: Sign up and use their net worth calculator for FREE. They are a free financial service platform that helps you analyze your portfolio, retirement, and financial health all on one simple & secure account
ThredUp: The only online recycle clothing store I currently shop and sell with. Great mission statement, company model, customer service, prices, and selection. Sign up with our invite link and you can get $10 free in ThredUP credit.
Survey Junkie: SJ is one of the few survey companies that are 100% legit, user-friendly, and great for making extra money. Earn up to $1,000 a month doing surveys online. You can make anywhere from $5-$20/day in your free time.