Sample Budget Template: Control where your money goes

Do you know where your money goes? Use a budget template to keep up with your finances.

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With money transacting in and out of your account every day, keeping up with your finances can be a messy task. But that doesn't have to be the case. A budget template is a simple tool that you can use to monitor your savings, expenditure and proximity to your financial goals. This guide will cover the tips and tricks for creating a budget, with a sample budget template that you can use as a guide.

Sample budget template

*Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this calculator, the results should only be used as an indication. They are neither a recommendation nor an eligibility test for any product and should not be construed as financial advice, investment advice or any other sort of advice.

Using pen and paper

In general, a budget template tracks your cash inflow and outflow. To make one yourself, all you have to do is grab a piece of paper and split it into two columns: one for "inflow" and one for "outflow". List down all the ways in which you earn money in one of the columns and list down your expenditures and their respective expenses in the other column. For example, "salary" counts as inflow and "mortgage payments" count as outflow. Then, total up the amounts in each column and compare your total inflow to your total outflow. This will give you an idea of your current spending and savings habits.

How do you create a budget using this information? On a separate piece of paper, calculate your ideal spending and saving ratios. From there, you can allocate sub-category limits. For instance, you might allocate 50% of your income to necessities. You could then split this amount amongst your various necessary expenditures, such as food, transportation, clothing and bill repayments.

Of course, this is only an example. You should customise the categories or even the visual layout to suit your preferences. The most important thing about budgeting is being able to understand your numbers, so lay them out in a way that makes sense to you.

Online budgeting tools

Are numbers not really your thing? If the idea of manually creating a budget puts you off, you could always use an app or online platform to hold you accountable to your budget.

One platform that does this is the Finder app. Through the app, you can monitor your bank accounts, credit cards, active loans and investments through a centralised dashboard. As well as this, you can keep up with your daily transactions and stay updated on your credit score with just a few swipes. This is an easy, free alternative to manually creating a budget template yourself.

Tips for making your budget template work

Whether you're using the sample template included above, or you're using an online money management tool, use these tips to create a budget that works.

#1 Set a savings goal

The purpose of having a budget is to limit your spending so that you can save more. This means that your budget will be directly impacted by your savings goal – whatever it is.

Take some time to think about what you're saving towards, both in the long term and in the short term. Some people focus on saving up for retirement. Others might work towards goals like buying a house, paying off debt or getting a new car. Whatever your goal may be, calculate the approximate amount of savings that you wish to have within a certain time frame. This number is now your savings goal. From there, you can calculate how much of your salary you should be saving each month.

#2 Change up your plan

Your financial situation will always dynamic because you are spending and receiving money all the time. In more drastic circumstances, you may even face a sudden financial change because of economic downturns, a change in your employment or a medical emergency. Either way, it's important to re-visit your budget at least once a month to see if it's still relevant. This will prevent you from overspending or setting an unrealistic savings amount.

#3 Prepare for the unexpected

Besides helping you accumulate savings, a budget is a great tool to help you prepare for the unexpected. There's nothing worse than having a financial emergency and realising that you don't have enough cash on hand. As a result, your budget should include room for an "emergency" fund, separate from your savings account, to be ready for immediate usage when trouble arises.

This could save you from making costly mistakes, such as withdrawing money from a locked-in savings account or an account with hefty withdrawal fees. Additionally, your emergency fund should be ready for use any time, without you having to jump through hoops to withdraw money.

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