How to Start Your Budget Spreadsheet: A Step By Step Guide
Updated: Jun 15
Managing your personal finances can be overwhelming, it’s hard to know where to start. It can be a daunting task to get started, especially if you are currently in the dark about how much you are spending.
However, with a little bit of patience and the right tools, you can have a much clearer picture of your finances. Getting a grip on your finances will help you reduce worry and stress and set goals for the future. You can use this financial clarity to help you achieve something you really want - such as saving a deposit for a house, taking a trip, or getting out of debt.
One of the best ways to manage your budget is to use a spreadsheet. It’s easy to adjust and incredibly customizable, so you can tailor it to the specific needs of your household. In this article, we’ll show you how to get your first budget spreadsheet started so you can get control of your earning, saving and spending.
Setting Up Your Spreadsheet
It won’t take too long to get started. Here are the steps to setting up a 12 month budget spreadsheet:
The first step is to start a new spreadsheet in Google Sheets. (You can do this in Google Chrome by simply typing “sheet.new” in your browser.)
You’ll now have a blank spreadsheet, which you can use to create categories for income and expenses. You can also start with a Google sheets budget template (read more on that below.)
Then, head to Google Marketplace and install the Nordveld Flow add-on. It will come with a thorough installation guide. You can sign up for the 30 day trial first to give it a try. (Any templates installed during that time are free forever.)
Follow the instructions to connect your bank account to the spreadsheet, so that Nordveld Flow can automatically update your financial information in real time. You’ll use Strong Customer Authentication to securely add a bank you want to track.
Why You Should Start With A Template
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating a budget spreadsheet. Instead, start with a household budget sheet template to get you most of the way there. Starting with a personal cash flow budget template is the best way to save time when creating a household budget.
There are many options for a Google sheets simple budget template, so you can choose the one that is most similar to your situation. Then, you can tweak the details and add columns if necessary, depending on your personal needs.
The ability to customize your personal cash flow budget template is one of the reasons why this is such a desirable way to manage your finances. There’s so much more room for adjustment than the typical cookie cutter app. You can always change the template and customize it to your liking - and keep changing it as your needs evolve. After all, it’s very hard to find one app out there that meets the needs of all of your complex lifestyles, situations and choices.
When you install the Nordveld Flow add-on, you’ll immediately get access to a great selection of tried and true personal financial management templates that you can base your spreadsheet on. You can create the ideal financial dashboard for you - with customized categories that reflect your spending habits, goals and needs.
Feed It With Current Data
It’s important to keep everything in your spreadsheet up to date, so you can make decisions based on real-world data. If you’re making financial choices based on incorrect or outdated data - then what’s the point?
This is why Nordveld is designed to automatically import your transactions and balances from your bank. You’ll be able to always have an up-to-date financial overview, right within Google Spreadsheets.
When you have an up to the minute snapshot of your finances, you’ll be able to quickly check in and have a sense of how things are going. After all, the saying goes, “if you don’t measure something, you can’t improve it.”
Get Expert Insight
Now that you’re tracking the data in a spreadsheet - what should you do with it? You might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all this information. It’s hard to know what to do or where to start, especially if you have very little prior financial management knowledge.
However, the good news is that there are many people out there whom you can learn from. If you put in a little bit of effort and an ambition to improve, you can start to educate yourself on smart financial management strategies.
The best approach? Have someone with experience look at your spreadsheet and point out what’s missing or could be improved. Sometimes the eye of an expert can be incredibly valuable and can reveal something you’d never have seen before.
The expert will be able to point out gaps in your spreadsheet, or give you advice for increasing your earnings or reducing your savings. Sometimes the advice of an expert can be incredibly powerful - and just a small tweak can make a big difference.
Make a Long Term Plan
So, you’ve gathered the information into a spreadsheet and you’ve taken the advice of an expert. Now it’s time to formulate a plan for the future.
Set a goal for your financial health. It could be to save a certain amount of money, or to reduce spending in a particular area. Or, it could be to diversify your income, or put more of your money into investments.
Whatever your goal is, it’s important to make it clear and specific. If your goal is too vague (for example, “save money”) then you’ll be less likely to succeed.
Track your progress towards the goal, checking in on a regular basis. Seeing the numbers in the spreadsheet change is a rewarding feeling and will really help you feel you are making progress.
Once you’ve reached your goal it’s time to celebrate, re-evaluate and make a new one!