My personal belief is that budgeting one’s monthly earnings and expenses is the first step towards achieving financial independence and meeting goals. For me, having a visual representation of where I am financially at any point in time is critical to my peace of mind. While I was in college I never tracked my spending or set goals for myself, only checking my bank account to ensure that it stayed above a certain amount. This is my biggest financial regret, because I realize now that had I been even a little diligent, I could have easily saved several thousand dollars that would be available for me today. I can only hypothesize on how much faster I would have reached my short-term goals as a result.
Since I graduated from college and moved into the adult world I have made it my mission to track every penny that goes in and out of my accounts. Some people prefer to do this with a physical journal or account book. Personally, I am married to my Microsoft Excel tables, which help me track both my monthly budgets and progress towards my financial goals. I found my budget as a template from the Microsoft website, which allowed me to track my income and separate my expenses by spending category (rent, groceries, etc.). Over time I also added a column that told me how much I had spent thus far per category, with an additional column telling me what I had left. Since then, I have many several changes to the template to turn it into a budget and personal finance tool that has helped me eliminate debt, hit my financial goals and make sure that I don’t over-indulge. This is a tool that I am eager to share with all of you!
I am issuing a challenge to everybody in the Get Financially Literate community to put yourselves on a personal budget, so that you can immediately start enjoying the benefits of getting control of your finances. Simply enter your email below, and you will get your own copy of my annual budgeting spreadsheet straight to your inbox! The file also includes directions for use and has an entire year’s worth of spreadsheets to help you plan ahead!