Sticking to a budget can be difficult, but tracking monthly expenses in a spreadsheet or template can help.
Here are four resources and budgeting tools you can start using now.
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 worksheet is the furthest thing from intimidating. It’s a great jumping-off point if you’ve never budgeted before. Once you see where cash is leaking out, pinpoint how to save money.
Where to get it: Download the PDF from Consumer.gov.
Microsoft Office 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: Download an Excel file from the Office templates, or sign in to Microsoft and edit in your desktop browser.
Google Drive 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 into 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 to Google Drive, then open Google Sheets to browse templates.
Mint lifestyle templates
How it works: Mint is a popular budgeting tool, but in addition to its 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.
Nerdy tip: Be careful when downloading anything onto your computer. If you click the wrong link, you could invite a phishing virus into your financial picture. Check online reviews and download budget templates only from websites you trust.