I faithfully used paper for budgeting for many years. I enjoyed using planner stickers and colored pens… but I outgrew it a few years ago, switched to Excel and haven’t looked back!
I did a post back in 2017 about my reasons for the switch and various methods you could use for digital budgeting. But the method that I’ve been using and that I’m sticking to is Excel.
Why I switched to using Excel for budgeting
- Formulas automatically calculate – much quicker than manually adding things up with a calculator
- I can track ALL of my finances in the one place (income, expenses, debt, savings, investments), rather than scattered across multiple pages (previously I was using a monthly calendar, bill tracker, savings tracker etc.)
- Don’t need to re-write the same things each month
- More room to write – you can make the columns and rows as wide as you want
- My handwriting can be messy – in Excel it’s much neater and there’s many different fonts to choose from
- While I can’t use planner stickers and colored pens in Excel, I can use different colored text and shade the cells in different colors
- Excel automatically creates graphs – ideal if you’re a visual person
- Quicker and easier to color code
- Yourself and your partner can easily access the spreadsheet to keep it updated
- If you and your partner both want to update the spreadsheet on the go, you can both access it via Google Sheets (which is a free online tool)
- Easier to forecast budget versus actual
- Easier to pinpoint what areas you’re over budget (I set up my spreadsheets so that the numbers automatically turn red if I’ve gone over budget)
- Can go into plenty of detail and keep it on the same spreadsheet (can zoom in and out in Excel whereas on paper you’re limited by how big you write and how big the piece of paper is)
- Quick to update and formulas will automatically update too
- Can save onto an external harddrive to quickly backup – don’t need to take photos of paper budgets / records for tax records
- Don’t need to store paper
I explain more about why I switched to Excel and show some of the reasons in the video below:
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
These are the spreadsheets I use for myself. I don’t have a partner or kids so these simple spreadsheets are perfect for my needs!
If you’d like to try these spreadsheets, there are 9 colors to choose from in my shop:
If you can’t decide on a color I’ve put them together in this bundle:
I created these for anyone that has kids. With more people there’s obviously more expenses to track so I added an expenses breakdown tab. The rest of the spreadsheets are the same as my personal budgeting spreadsheets.
I also made a rainbow version if you like color coding 🙂
Want to learn how to make your own pretty spreadsheets in Excel? Click here!