When it comes to spending money, the golden rule is always to spend wisely. But what does that mean? And how do you do it efficiently? People want to ensure their money is being properly handled and accounted for, but how?

Today, almost everyone thinks of a bank account as somewhere to store hard earned money and ask questions when in need of financial assistance. Somewhere to keep it safe and in good hands. While that is smart, great, and true—in this case, the answer to staying personally accountable is you. You can do so by creating and using a budget sheet.

But why go the extra mile to make a budget sheet? To keep track of your expenditures, be more aware of upcoming bills and expenses, and know always that your money will be spent wisely. Allow yourself to feel more comfortable and confident with your finances.

If you’re ready to, or want to, hold yourself personally accountable through the use of a budget sheet, check out these steps below to create your own:

Gather Your Documents

Gather all checks, pay stubs, and monthly dividends, as well as all recent bills and past reoccurring expenses, to make this process simpler. The more documents you have, the more true and correct the budget sheet will be.

Determine All of Your Forms of Income

Do you receive a paycheck weekly or biweekly? Do you have a side hustle that brings in a little extra income every month? Are you involved with stocks and are able to reap those benefits?

Pinpoint every expense

Whether this is rent, car insurance, pet food, or other, write it down. All expenses little or large matter here, especially if they are reoccurring either daily, weekly, or monthly. Be as specific here as possible. For example, if you have a “rent and utilities” expense listed, try to break it down by each billed component: rent, electric, gas, water. With a clear overview of costs, it is easier to see where money is being spent consistently.

Split your monthly expenses between variable and fixed

Fixed expenses are typically those sent to you on the same day every month, and do not change in price. Examples of theses are car payments and rent. Variable costs will change and depend on you: eating out, buying gas, or going to the movies. Be sure that all of these costs are worth the spending; if not, try to slowly cut out your frivolous expenditures.

So, now you have two sheets of paper and  the third will be digital. Go ahead and input both income and expenses onto an excel sheet, along the left side going down, with their associated dollar amount in the cell to the right. If you prefer, Google Sheets is a great option.

Budget Timing

Lastly, you want to choose a time period. Will it be weekly, biweekly, or monthly? The most common choice is monthly because it requires less constant maintenance (*as long as you are keeping up with all necessary documents such as receipts and bills throughout the month). First, you’ll want to label the column “budget;” this is the column for the dollar amounts you inputted in the prior step. The next two will be labeled “actual” and “difference.” By doing so, each month, you will determine how much you gained or lost. Check out what this looks like on a spreadsheet.

Maintain Your Budget

Keep this budget sheet as up-to-date as possible! The more consistent you are with it, the easier it will become a wise habit. Take the time to keep track of your saving and spending on your new budget sheet, because it will absolutely pay off in the long run.

Templates Make it Easy

If you are more of a visual learner, or just prefer something a bit more straightforward, try this personal budget sheet template. Feel free to download the PDF and then save it with your personal information. Keep in mind, this has been preset with a list of expenses and assumed ways of income, so it may not be perfectly suited for At worst, it will give you a clear idea of how to create your own based on this look and template.

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