Not long ago we created a basic budget in three simple steps and a cash flow sheet to monitor and foresee financial movements. I hope you found yourself with a plus to work with each month! But now what?? Find out where your plus is going with a housekeeping budget book. Find margins and saving potential.
Start now using this guide and the free editable spreadsheets and printables. Track your spending and find out if you spend more than you should.
What good is a personal budget book
A budget book is your personal expense tracker for all the expenses that are not covered by the fixed expenses of your budget. You already know your fixed expenses by now. You also monitor movements on your bank accounts with the personal cash flow sheet. What remains to be examined is where your cash goes and how much you spend on what exactly.
Why do you want to know where the money went? Because you need to know if you are living within your means and where to find margin. If you just know you are living below your means you cannot decide where to save or on what. With a budget book, you will find out exactly how much you pay each month for what. Then you can decide in which area you could spend less. For example, you can compare your expenses for groceries with the average and find that you spend a lot more. Possible savings found!
How to create a household budget book
Don’t panic. I know it can be intimidating at first but I will break this down and provide ready to use templates for you to use. We will be using a table for easy use. Go with the fully editable and automated digital file or print out the budget book spreadsheet each month.
First, decide what categories to include. These are all the things you spend your money on put together in groups. We will write down each expense in one category. That way you can easily add them up at the end of a month.
When I started to keep a household budget book I just used plain paper and write down the expenses of the day, one after the other. It was cumbersome to go through this list at the end of the week or month to add things up and I sometimes got totally lost.
Let’s see how to make this better by using categories and a table format.
Categories to include in your budget book
Some categories are mandatory, others depend on your situation. You need to find out which categories make sense for your family. Include all expenses that are not already in your fixed expenses calculation. Decide if you want to track incoming money, too. I don’t and just include all my expenses of day-to-day life. It can be handy to have an extra tracker of tax-deductible expenses, too.
Here are some of the categories I use to give you some idea. A more comprehensive list of budget categories can be found here.
- Cleaning supplies/drugstore goods
- Car maintenance
- Eating out
- Pet supplies
- Events, if any, e.g. vacation
- Total daily expenses
- Source if you want (debit card, VISA, gift card, cash, …)
- Total monthly expenses for each category
- Total monthly expenses for all
If you want you can further divide categories. For example, in addition to just “groceries”, you could have separate categories for beverages, sweets or meat. These have some saving potential to check out! Use the printable shared below that has categories already filled in to get going.
Budget Book Maintainance
Depending on your preference you could work on your budget book daily or weekly. You could even do it on a monthly basis but this is a lot of work and you might forget things. If you tend to forget what you spent your best bet is a daily recap. Track all your expenses the very same day. This only takes 2 minutes of your time.
If you want to do a weekly finance recap make sure to collect all receipts in one place. Maybe make a cute receipts jar. Go through them weekly. Remember that you need to keep some receipts for tax time once you have used them for your budget book.
After tracking finances and budgeting you may end up tired and ready to quit. I feel you! Keep in mind how much value a budget book offers. Maybe these 6 tipps of the Busy Budgeter to hold onto budgeting if motivation drops to zero may help you!
Budget Book – paper VS digital
The advantages of a digital budget book are clear: You can have expenses automatically added up for a monthly and daily total sum. You can even add a yearly spreadsheet to monitor your spending habits long-term.
I’m more of a pen and paper person and I love cute printables. As a budget book, I use an actual budget book I got for one Euro at Tedi. It has so many monthly spreadsheets that it would last for three years. And I like to just jot down things without getting to the computer or phone. At the end of a month, I have to sit down and punch a lot of numbers into my calculator.
You decide what suits you best.
To get you started I created a digital budget book spreadsheet you can edit and make fit your needs. If you are anything like me and you prefer to use pen and paper go with the printable budget book spreadsheet.
Start tracking your expenses and learn where exactly your money is going and where you can save some cash.
Paper version budget book using my free printable template
Get yourself a ready-to-use budget book from the store, use a simple sheet of paper or the free printables I share. There are two versions. One has categories already filled in with an extra category for expenses that do not fit in elsewhere. The other version has blank fields so that you can fill in the categories you want to use. Instantly get access to the free budget book printable, exclusively for subscribers.
The budget book printable covers one month. Print one for each month so you can later review them and estimate your average spending and learn about your spending habits.
Each day or week fill in every single expense wether it was cash, per debit card or credit card. Leave out only fixed expenses you have tracked in your basic budget.
Sum up all expenses of one day and fill in the column on the right for daily expenses. Sum up the expenses of one spending category at the end of the month and fill this number in the cell at the bottom (total/cat). Then add all categories total expenses to estimate the total expenses of one month. You don’t need to calculate both, the daily total expenses AND the total expenses per category. If you want choose one and use this one to calculate the monthly total.
Going paperless with digital budget book spreadsheets
You can buy electronic budget books, find an app or use my free budget book spreadsheet that I provide in the free resource library for subscribers.
The digital budget book template I share with you is basically a paperless version of the printable above but it comes with automated equations. Another Plus: It covers six months of expenses and automatically calculates your average spending per month. With an average using six months of data you will get a good understanding about your spending habits and can compare your expenses with the average American’s spending.
Access the free budget book template in the free library for subscribers. Then make a copy for yourself. (File – Make copy – Enter a name – press ok). Now your are all set to track your spending. Use it just like the printable version and fill in all expenses on a daily or weekly basis. Then relax because total expenses of each day and each category, as well as each month, will be calculated automatically. Also, your monthly values will automatically be filled in the six-month-average sheet and then calculated. You need to fill in six months to see the exact average over six months.
Your budget book assignment
Go create a budget book and track your spending. Start today! Half a year from now, you will have a wealth of data and a perfect asset to transform your personal finances and find any saving potential there is. Don’t wait.
Subscribe now to download the free worksheets, printable or digital and editable.
And make sure to follow along when we will cover the biggest mistakes people make with their budget books and how you can fix them next week.