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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.
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.
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: .
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.
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.
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 .
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:
Want nerdy knowledge that’s personalized to your money? Bring all your money into one view, and get tailored insights to make the most of it.