I wrote recently on the importance of financial fitness. The more I focus on my health in keeping up with the 30 x 5 challenge, I’m reminded of my goal to stay financially fit. I’ve done a lot of reading and searched a lot of blogs trying to find an easy way for me to budget and actually keep up with my finances. As with all things, I believe firmly in finding what works for you and sticking with it. I ended up looking at a lot of templates and ideas and making my own Excel spreadsheet to see all J’s and my income and expenses, mapped out. You can take a look at my basic template here: BudgetExample, inspired by resources on Budgets are $exy. I have columns for what is budgeted, what we actually spend, and the difference.
To keep track of the actual expenditures and incomes I chose to stick with the Intuit program Quicken, which I’ve used in the past. It’s pretty easy to use and is probably the best financial software there is. For the basic “Deluxe” edition, it’s an initial investment of $59.99 but if I stick with it I should get that and more back in the long run.
With the new versions of Quicken you can actually download expenses offline from your bank and credit card accounts which is AMAZING and saves loads of time. All I have to do is make a few adjustments and I can view any number of charts and reports about my spending. I can even input my budget info into Quicken and it will show me a chart of how close we’re staying to the budget and how much we’re saving. Nice! It takes some time, but there are several things I want to save for in the future and sticking with a budget is the only way to do that. I find that no matter how much money one makes it’s easy to spend it all if you’re not careful. The only way to avoid that is to make a plan, chart it out, and do it.
Happy budgeting my friends!