Personal money management expert Dave Ramsey once said, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” We couldn’t agree more! Creating and maintaining a budget is one of the best ways for you to begin managing your money, recover from debt, or stay out of it in the first place. Unfortunately, studies show that only about half of all Canadians (49%) have a budget.
If that includes you it’s time to become a budget master! But don’t worry, we don’t expect you to do it all on your own—we’ve created a new and improved Budget Planner + Expense Tracker to help you out. You can download it today for free by clicking on the link below. But first, a bit about the importance of budgeting and expense tracking, and how our new tool works.
The Importance of Budgeting and Expense Tracking
A monthly budget planner provides a clear picture of what you have to spend based on your income. Of course, it’s also important to track your expenses so you know where you’re spending your income, too. This way, you can identify expenses you may be able to cut back on in order to put more money toward paying down debt or building up savings.
Studies also show that Canadians who budget are:
- Less likely to fall behind on their financial commitments.
- More effective at managing their monthly cash flow and less likely to spend above their monthly income.
- Less likely to have to borrow or use credit to cover day-to-day expenses because they are short of money.
The same study shows that an overwhelming majority of Canadians who budget are using some form of a digital tool to help, whether it's a budget spreadsheet, mobile app, or other financial software. And that’s not all — the report also shows that those using these online budgeting tools are among those most likely to keep on top of their bill payments and monthly cash flow, which is exactly why we created our free Budget Planner + Expense Tracker.
How Our Budget Planner + Expense Tracker Works
We understand that some people don't like dealing with finances or numbers, while others might outright fear them (a condition often referred to as arithmophobia or numerophobia). The good news is our downloadable monthly Budget Planner + Expense Tracker does most of the work for you. Before you begin, you may want to set some financial goals for yourself (you can read more about setting SMART goals here) to help keep you motivated. Here’s how the all-in-one budgeting and tracking tool works.
The Budget Planner
On the first tab of this spreadsheet, you’ll need to enter some personal financial information, such as your income after taxes, your monthly expenses, and your debt. Once you're done, the planner shows you how your earnings stack up against your expenses while providing you with an overview of your total monthly housing costs, living costs, work expenses, and personal expenses. Some of these monthly costs and expenses are difficult to determine off the top of your head, which is where the expense tracker or spending tracker comes into play. (Curious about how much you should be shelling out on expenses each month? Check out our blog How Much Money You Should Spend on Monthly Expenses.)
The Expense Tracker
Outside of living expenses, such as rent, mortgage payments, car payments, utilities, etc. which don’t change much from month-to-month, many people don’t know where all their money goes. Often, they’re spending their cash on little things that quickly add up! To help you see exactly how much money you spend every month on different expense items, the next step is to track your daily spending for one month. You will do this using the next five tabs (one tab per week) in the planner to track your spending—this includes everything from the $100 pair of shoes you bought on Etsy to that $1 pack of gum from the gas station. At the end of the month, you will have a complete picture of your spending which can help you identify areas in your budget where you can cut back on expenses. (Our Budget Calculator also has some great suggestions!)
The Final Monthly Report
The last tab on the tool provides you with a final monthly report showing you whether you came in over or under budget, and how your spending compares to other Canadians and general spending guidelines. We recommend tracking expenses every day, including at home, at work, and at play to make the most of the tool, your budget and your income—and to help you develop a money management and spending plan for the future.
Free Budget Planner + Expense Tracker
The numbers don’t lie; budgeting and expense tracking can help close the door on debt and other financial woes! Now, we know we’ve thrown a lot of information at you, but don’t worry, the actual Budget Planner + Expense Tracker tool includes directions right in the spreadsheet so you won’t have to refer back to this post. And, if you give it a try but still feel overwhelmed or confused about how to budget or how to keep track of expenses, our certified Credit Counsellors are always available to provide free debt help and advice. Give us a call at 1.800.267.2272 and we can book you a free counselling session with one of our Credit Counsellors or you can also connect with us online. All of our counselling is free, and we will never judge you for your spending decisions or money choices.