Money is absolutely necessary for our lives and is intertwined in our everyday schedule. Regardless of your financial situation, having a budget is an essential personal finance management tool and a critical step in achieving financial freedom.
Without a budget, how will you know where you stand financially? How will you properly manage basic living expenses, while simultaneously making sure you’re saving enough for retirement?
Unfortunately, creating a budget and managing your money can be a daunting task. However, with the help of free budgeting tools, managing your finances is easier than ever.
So, what are the best monthly budget templates and apps? In this post, I will define what a budgeting tool is, how they work, and provide you with a list of the 15 best, so you don’t have to do the research yourself.
What is a Monthly Budget Template?
A monthly budget template helps you manage your budget by tracking your monthly income and your monthly expenses with clear and precise accuracy.
Simply put, a budget template will help you manage your money. It will help you know where it’s coming from and where it’s going.
After you have been using a budget template for awhile, you will be able to analyze patterns in your spending habits. This will help you figure out where your wasting money and what financial changes are necessary.
A monthly budget template can be physical, digital, or even an app that is user-friendly and simple.
How Does a Monthly Budget Template Work?
To use a monthly budget template, start by jotting down your total take-home pay. Next, write down how you are spending your money by referring to all your monthly bills and receipts.
After you have done so, simply subtract you expenses from your income to see if you’re spending less than you make and how much you will have left at the end of the month.
Almost every monthly budget template will include:
- Budget categories for income and expenses
- A section to estimate your monthly income and expenses
- A place to record actual income and expenses
- A section to calculate the difference between the two
Your monthly budget template can be as sophisticated or simple as you prefer. For example, you can use a physical template and pen, a digital template, or even an app on your computer and phone.
You will also be able to customize the spreadsheet to budget specifications and goals.
Should You Use a Budget Template or App?
Is using a budget template or app really all that important? yes, It certainly is. Regardless of financial standing, everyone should at least use one or the other.
Creating a budget and using a template or app, can be the difference between financial ruin and financial freedom.
Whether or not you should use a template or app will depend on what you’re most comfortable with. You should choose a budgeting system that fits your personality and financial goals.
If budgeting is overwhelming for you when you’re first starting out, simple is always the best solution.
By using a budget template or app, you will have far more control over your budget and your financial future.
How to Choose the Right Budget Template
When it comes to budgeting, there isn’t necessarily one method that is better than the rest. Considering this, choosing the right budget template is totally up to you.
As previously mentioned, the most important thing is that the budget template you choose works with your personality and not against it.
The right budget template will allow you to see your income and monthly expenses at a glance so that you an quickly determine budgeting categories that may need adjustments.
The right budget template will also have a section to record your savings goals as well as the most important budget categories such as shelter, utilities, food, and transportation expenses.
Best Monthly Budget Templates
- 1. NerdWallet (Free)
- 2. Google Sheets (Free)
- 3. Microsoft Excel (Free)
- 4. Vertex42 (Free)
- 5. It’s Your Money (Free)
- 6. PearBudget (Free)
- 7. The Budget Mom (Free)
Best Budgeting Apps
- 8. Mint (Free)
- 9. Personal Capital (Free)
- 10. EveryDollar (Free)
- 11. Qube Money (Free)
- 12. YNAB ($11.99 a Month)
- 13. Simpifi ($3.99 a Month)
- 14. Tiller Money ($6.58 a Month)
- 15. Mvelopes ($5.98 a Month)
Best Monthly Budget Templates
First, we will take a closer look at our favorite monthly budget templates. There are a lot of great budgeting spreadsheets out there, but these are by far the best.
1. NerdWallet (Free)
NerdWallet has many free budget templates, tools, calculators, and even a budget planner worksheet you can use. Their free worksheet is great to see how your spending compares to your budget.
Simply put, their budget planner will help you decide the best way to spend your money while avoiding or paying off your debt.
If you use the NerdWallet budget planner, they will recommend you use the 50/30/20 budget, a budgeting strategy in which 50% of your income goes towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings and debt repayment.
If you enjoy the free budget tools they offer, you can sign up for their free budgeting app that will give you a complete view of your income, bills, and transactions in one place.
2. Google Sheets (Free)
Yes, free budget templates are offered by Google Sheets. In fact, there are many wonderful spreadsheets that are worth checking out.
If you’re a data inclined person and love tracking every penny, Google Sheets budget templates may be a perfect fit for you.
Although this way of budgeting can be time-consuming, it will help you better understand your spending patterns and allow you to have far more control of your budget.
One added bonus is that you can use the Google Sheets iPhone or Android app, so that you will also have access to your budget spreadsheets and be able to edit them on the go.
3. Microsoft Excel (With Microsoft Office)
Do you have Microsoft Office? If you do, look no further than Microsoft Excel for all your template needs.
People have been using Microsoft Excel for budgeting since 1985. Since then, Excel has compiled over 50 free budget templates that you can use.
They have monthly budget templates, family budget templates, holiday budget templates, wedding budget templates, and even budget calculators.
Whether you’re just looking for a simple way to manage your budget, or you’re an Excel pro, the free Microsoft Excel budget templates are a great solution.
You can find the Microsoft Excel Budget templates here.
4. Vertex42 (Free)
Vertex42 offers over a dozen free budget templates and personal finance spreadsheets that are built for Excel. However, some of them are also compatible with Google Sheets, Apache OpenOffice Calc, and LibreOffice Calc.
Whether you’re looking for spreadsheets for monthly or yearly household budgets, personal budgets, business budgets, or almost any other type of budget, Vertex42 has you covered.
they also offers money management spreadsheets for adults and kids.
One thing that sets Vertex42 apart from the rest, is that many of their spreadsheets include a tutorial. This is wonderful for anyone not familiar with spreadsheets.
5. It’s Your Money (Free)
It’s Your Money offers seven free budgeting spreadsheets. They also offer a cash flow budget spreadsheet that was inspired by Dave Ramsey’s Zero-Based budgeting method.
The Box Budget Spreadsheet has broken down each month into four works. This way, you will have a simple visual of your income, expenses, and savings.
All seven spreadsheets, including the cash flow spreadsheet, is compatible with Microsoft Excel with macros enabled. A few of them also work with OpenOffice Calc, which is free to use.
6. PearBudget (Free)
Simply put, PearBudget is a completely free, all-inclusive monthly household spreadsheet that you can download and use with any spreadsheet software that is compatible and supports Excel files.
With the analysis tab, you can analyze expenses by your different budget categories and see the difference between you actual spending and your planned spending.
On PearBudget.com, there is also an updated online version of the monthly budget template that you don’t need to download. However, it’s available for a 30-day free trial, then you will have to pay monthly.
7. The Budget Mom (Free)
When it comes to the simplest way to manage your budget, the Monthly Budget Packet from TheBudgetMom.com is the way to go.
Sometimes using pen and paper will help you feel more connected to your expenses that you’re tracking.
The free printable budget template in the packet will provide you with a detailed chart to track your income and expenses. It will also have a section where you can write down your debt and savings.
In the monthly budget packet, you will also get a bill tracker and a monthly spending chart so you can test to see which option works best for personal finance needs and preferences.
Best Free Budgeting Apps
Now we will take a look at the best free budgeting apps. Although they don’t offer as many features as a paid budgeting app does, they still have wonderful budget tools and templates you can access anywhere and anytime.
8. Mint (Free)
Mint is the #1 most downloaded personal finance app that provides assistance managing your budget. The app has also completely changed what it means to budget since its debut in 2006.
With Mint, you will be able to easily set up your budget based on your spending patterns. It will track your monthly expenses and also help you plan for larger purchases you will make in the future.
You will also have access to a wide variety of free charts and graphs so you can quickly compare your expenses from one month to the next.
Not only will you have access to Mint on your compare, you will also have access to it on your phone, tablets, and even your smartwatch. This will allow you to manage your budget on the go.
9. Personal Capital (Free)
Personal Capital is by far my second favorite personal finance app that is free to use. When it comes to tracking your net worth and planning for retirement, Personal Capital easily outshines the rest.
It’s also wonderful for analyzing your monthly spending, cash flow, investments, and tracking your short-term and long-term financial goals.
After you create an account, you will have access to a robust set of financial tracking tools, as well as a mix of free budget templates.
Simply put, if you have multiple savings accounts and investments to constantly keep an eye on, Personal capital is the perfect finance app for you.
10. EveryDollar (Free)
EveryDollar is another wonderful budgeting app and is offered by the Ramsey Solutions team and is completely free. The EveryDollar app utilizes the zero-based budgeting strategy to track your income and expenses.
Once you sign up, you’ll be able to build a budget in 10 minutes or less and start tracking it throughout the month.
While EveryDollar is not as robust as Personal Capital or Mint, if you’re someone that prefers to use a simple budgeting app, it will be a great fit.
Although there are no bells and whistles, it can definitely get the job done and help you manage your budget.
11. Qube Money (Free)
Fourth on our list of the best budgeting apps that are free to use is Qube Money. You may not have heard of it before, but it’s definitely one of the best free budgeting apps out there for mobile devices.
With Qube Money, you can control your spending, manage your debt, and stay on top of your finances while you’re on the go.
If you struggle with the habit of spending impulsively, I highly recommend you give this app a try.
The Qube Money budgeting app is also a particularly great option for families and couples.
Best Paid Budgeting Apps
Lastly, we will take a look at the best paid budgeting apps. Although you have to pay a monthly subscription to use them, they are far superior than free budgeting apps and are worth the cost.
12. You Need a Budget (34 Day trial, then $11.99 a Month)
You Need a Budget is a great paid personal finance app that offers a simple and automated budget template. It’s also currently one of the fastest-growing budgeting software.
Unlike Mint, YNAB will help you stay on the edge of your seat and force you to budget every single dollar. This strategy is known as the zero-based budgeting method.
When you treat every single dollar you spend as a budgeted expense, your income minus expenses should always equal zero. If you overspend in a budget category, YNAB will automatically prompt you to use overage from another category to cover the expense.
The software will also automatically track your spending so you don’t have to manually add it to your spreadsheet.
13. Simplifi by Quicken (30 Day Trial, then $3.99 a Month)
When it comes to managing your finances, there is no one size fits all method. Using a budget is personal and while some people like using a budgeting app on their phone, others prefer the old school pen and paper or even Excel template methods.
If you prefer to use an app, The Quicken team has created Simplifi just for you. Simplifi is a wonder budgeting app designed to help people manage and optimize their personal finances.
On the Simplifi dashboard, you can easily track your income, expenses, bills, savings, and investment accounts in one place.
They also offer a spending plan that will make it easier for you to monitor your cash flow, which is particularly helpful business owners since income will fluctuate.
14. Tiller Money (30 Day Trial, then $6.58 a Month)
Tiller Money may just be one of the best budgeting programs available. They are a company that offers spreadsheet integration with your checking and savings account, providing the option to create reports from the spreadsheets you create.
Entering your budget data into a spreadsheet can a tedious task, but with the help of Tiller Money, your data will be automatically imported and sorted by populating an Excel or Google spreadsheet that you choose.
This will help take a lot of the work out of tracking your income, spending, and savings, which can be a large hurdle when taking control of your finances.
15. Mvelopes (30 Day Trial, then $5.98 a Month )
Mvelopes is an online service build around Dave Ramsey’s budget envelope system. If you use this budgeting strategy, then you’re sure to love Mvelopes digital budgeting app.
There are two ways you can use it. You can either put cash in a separate envelope for each of your budgeting categories when you get paid, and then only use that money that’s in the envelope for each category.
Or you can have an envelope for everything you’re saving for and start putting cash in each one, and then when you have enough money in an envelope, you can spend it.
Simply put, this a digital take on the classic envelope budgeting system.
Best Monthly Budget Template FAQs:
1. How Do You Make a Monthly Budget Template?
To make a monthly budget template, start by picking your program. If your not sure which program to choose, Microsoft Excel is a great option. You can also consider using Google sheets or even Apple’s Numbers software.
Once you have chosen a program, you need to select a template. Almost every spreadsheet program has a version of a “personal budget” template you can use.
Once you have selected and opened a template, all you need to do is enter your own numbers. You should see boxes (called “cells”) to fill in this information.
Now all you need to do is check your results. If you have all your numbers entered into the spreadsheet, you should see a line-by-line accounting of your monthly finances.
You should also see a total for your income and expenses. Depending on the template you chose, you may even see charts that will help you better visualize your financial situation.
2. What is the Best Excel Budget Template?
There are many amazing Excel budget templates. In fact, there are over 50 you can choose from that are all free.
You can find templates for monthly budgets, holiday budgets, wedding budgets, family budgets, etc. In addition, Excel even has a budget calculator you can use.
The one that will work best for you will depend on your personality, budgeting strategy, and financial goals.
It’s Your Money, PearBudget, and Vertex42, all have amazing budget templates you can choose from that are compatible with Excel.
Final Words on Monthly Budget Templates
These tools have made personal finance planning, tracking, and comparing easier than ever before while offering you complete control over your finances.
Whether you’re using a template or an app, it’s a wonderful way to start managing your budget. In addition, these tools will also help you plan and save for an upcoming vacation, a large purchase, a new business venture, and much more.
As you become more savvy using these tools, you will also be able to create graphics that can show you your spending, saving, and earning patterns. This will help you make necessary adjustments to your budget when needed.
So, what are you waiting around for? Figure out which tools fit your personality and budgeting goals, and start taking control of your finances today!