How to Use Google Sheets for Budgeting

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Most of us will have been in a situation where we realise our funds aren’t going to stretch until the end of the month or until the next deposit is made into our bank account. It’s hard to keep track of your money nowadays, with more and more subscription services available and many payments being taken directly from your account.

In order to stay ahead of their finances, many people are turning to applications to help them budget. However, many apps charge for their use or require access to personal information (such as your bank details), so why not use something free?

Find a Budget Template That Works For You

There are a number of Google Sheets budget templates out there but, owing to their accessibility and easy use. Whether you’re using the sheet for business or personal use, you should be comfortable with how to complete it in order to get the most benefit from its use. Therefore, we recommend searching out a template that includes interactive examples of how it should be completed and this will help to ensure that the decisions you make (based on the budget’s numbers) are correct.

Adapt the Template to Your Needs

No two people’s needs are the same and you should amend any template to the extent that it’s 100% suitable for your purposes.

If you’re budgeting for the home, then you might want to take into account categories such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Vacations
  • Car care

However, a budget for your business might look quite different, including categories such as:

  • Wages
  • Rent
  • Tax
  • Logistics
  • Shipping

Don’t forget that you can not only amend existing categories but also add new categories by inserting lines and columns into the Google Sheet.

Keep Track of Credits and Debits

Now the sheet is set up, you will need to ensure that you take account of every credit and debit – being sure not to miss any and therefore avoiding being caught out by a shortfall at a later date.

You’ll most likely need to start by entering a total income figure, from which the other category amounts can be subtracted. Many sheets will include a secondary cell that estimates a post-tax (net) amount, but if you already know that amount then simply overwrite the sheet’s estimate so that the budget is as accurate as possible.

If you’re using the budget template for business purposes, then it’s quite likely that your income is variable. If that is the case, then review your business income over the past 3 to 12 months and come up with a conservative average to build your budget on.

Top tip: The more conservative you are with your estimate, the healthier your contingency pot will be!

Now you just need to keep track of your account debits (or expenses). Try and set aside a little time each day for budget administration, keeping on top of payments as and when they’re made.

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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.