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Tracking monthly expenses in a budget spreadsheet or template can make managing your money a little easier.
The five budgeting tools below are among our favorites. Wherever you find a budget spreadsheet or template, be careful when downloading it. Checking online reviews and downloading budget templates from only websites you trust will help you avoid phishing viruses.
The Federal Trade Commission’s budget worksheet
How it works: The Federal Trade Commission offers a website to educate consumers about money, including how to budget. To get started, consult its "Make a Budget" worksheet. Download the PDF and fill in the fields to see whether you’re making more than you spend or spending more than you make.
What we like: Numbers and formulas can make budgeting a turnoff, but this simple worksheet is the furthest thing from intimidating. It’s a great jumping-off point if you’ve never budgeted before.
Where to get it: On Consumer.gov, download the PDF from the "Toolbox" tab.
NerdWallet’s budget worksheet
How it works: Use this online form to input your monthly income and expenses. With that information, the worksheet shows how your finances compare with the 50/30/20 budget breakdown, which recommends that 50% of your income goes toward needs, 30% toward wants and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. You can also download these worksheets in Excel.
What we like: This thorough worksheet prompts you to consider a wide range of expenses — from life insurance premiums to travel expenses to credit card payments — so you don’t miss anything. You can also see worksheets specific to your situation, whether you’re a college student, parent, homeowner, senior or none of those.
Where to get it: Find it on NerdWallet, of course: budget worksheet.
Microsoft Office budget templates
How it works: Maintaining a spreadsheet requires discipline, and creating a spreadsheet from scratch takes time. Save yourself the hassle of setting up rows, columns and formulas by using a pre-made Excel template from Office. Templates include a household expense budget, holiday budget planner and event budget.
What we like: There’s a template for just about every budget situation, from simple to complex. Access Excel online and collaborate with others in the same document at the same time.
Where to get it: Visit templates.office.com and click “Budgets” to find an Excel file to download. Or sign in to Microsoft and edit in your desktop browser.
Google Drive budget spreadsheets
How it works: Google Drive is a file storage service where users can create, upload and share files. Get 15GB of storage for free or upgrade if that's not enough. The Sheets app for Drive includes pre-made templates, such as an annual budget and monthly budget.
What we like: You can bring your budget with you by logging in to your Google Drive account from your smartphone, tablet or computer. You can also share access to a household budget with other members of your family.
Where to get it: Sign in at google.com/sheets, then browse the template gallery.
Mint lifestyle templates
How it works: In addition to Mint's well-known app, the money manager offers budget templates, too. Choose your desired budget, then use the pre-made format to guide your categorization of spending.
What we like: There are demographic-specific options that fit a variety of life stages. Students will benefit from the college template, while parents of young kids will appreciate the day care template.
Where to get it: Download an Excel file from Mint.
More ways to take charge of your budget
Researching budget spreadsheets and templates is already a solid start in managing your money. If the tools above aren’t a good fit, you’ve got other options: