At first, I used a really simple Word document where I listed all the items that were coming in (income) and then all that was going out (expenses). I manually added up the columns and then subtracted the two against each other to come up with my net income/loss for the month. I did this for quite awhile until I got a copy of Excel.
I'm not a numbers guy by nature, so Excel was a bit of a leap for me. But, once I got started on it – I was hooked. Everything had a neat little box for it – and numbers were auto-magically calculated by using clever formulas.
Today, I use Google Docs to collaborate and share a budget with my wife. Very similar to Microsoft Office products, they are cloud-based, so I can access these wherever and whenever I need to. If you are concerned with privacy – I would just say that don't put anything out there on the internet (or in the hands of Google) that you don't want someone else seeing. To date, Google has a pretty decent track record of maintaining and protecting their users' content.
Some helpful budget worksheets and documents
One of our readers recently made the suggestion that we write about “starting a family budget”. And, we thought why not provide some of helpful budgets that have worked for us – and share them publicly for you to use/download so you can start that family or personal budget (if you haven't already).
There are also some we've found on the Internet that you may find useful as well. I'm still traditional in the sense that I haven't fully got on board with Mint.com or YNAB – and still track much of our family's inflow and outflow via good-old-fashion check registers (yes, I still write checks) and Excel. To me, they are the best real-time tracking tools I know.
Net Worth Worksheet
One very useful way to get a sense of your financial picture is to list and compare all of your assets and liabilities. Here's a simple way to figure that out via a Google Doc “Net Worth” spreadsheet we created for your use. Feel free to download it and open er up in Excel to find your personal net worth.
Yearly Budget Worksheet
Here's a Yearly and Monthly Budget (Excel doc) (created by Vertex42.com) that I have personally been using for the past couple years. I love it – and it gives you a great picture of the whole year, where you're currently at, what expense you might need to pull the reigns in on and what you've cumulatively spent and taken in for the year.
Another Budget Spreadsheet
Excel Budget with Debt Snowball
I found this one via Reddit. This is super helpful if you currently have debts to pay and want to work the debt snowball to quickly get out of debt. Make sure you only edit the gray areas on the spreadsheets (unless you really know Excel) – but this will give you a great view of when you'll be able to pay off those debts and how much you should be paying.
Would love to hear how you are tracking your finances and any useful tools or documents you use.