Creating a family budget is very important, especially when the economy has most families pinching their pennies. A well-organized family budget is vital so that a family can understand whether cutbacks are necessary and so that money can go to areas that are most needed. Paying back debts and saving for the future are also much easier if a family is on a budget.
While there are many programs available that can cost hundreds of dollars that claim to help create a family budget, all you really need to use is Google Spreadsheets. The main advantage of Google Spreadsheets is that it is a free application. Additionally, it’s available online. So, no matter where you are, you can update, edit or check your family budget. Also, like all Google Docs, you can share the budget online with family members or your accountant if necessary.
Formatting the Google Spreadsheet is really quite simple. For the most basic budget, all you need are two columns. The first column lists the categories for your expenses, and the second column gives a monetary value to the corresponding category.
The most difficult part about creating a family budget is to find everything that should be included. Every penny that you spend per month should be accounted for on the budget. If you skip over even one area, your family budget won’t be of much value.
Common monthly expenses include housing, utilities, auto, food, household items, loan payments, credit cards and insurance. Also, be sure to budget in things such as entertainment costs. If you have something that doesn’t fall into other categories, you can group those under miscellaneous costs.
Once you have all of your monthly expenses listed and their respective monetary value, you can find the sum of the costs to find out how much your family is spending each month. If it is less than your total family income, you can then decide what to do with the left over money, such as putting it in a savings account. If the monthly budget is more than your income, you will have to decide where to cut costs so that you can survive on a month-to-month basis without racking up debt.
Google Docs offers a variety of pre-made templates that have the spreadsheet completely set up. All you have to do is input your income and breakdown your expenditures. Check the photo below to see a sample from the family budget template.