This blog post is something that is really near and dear to my heart. I truly think that so many people are in debt because they don’t know how to budget or simply don’t want to. Well, I have developed what I think is the best budget planner and I have made it available to you all as well!
If you’re wondering what makes it the best, and I would be wondering that too if someone claimed this, I would say that it really comes down to a few things:
- Forcibility to track
- Fool Proof
Boom! End of post – that was easy.
Kidding! I really think that these are the three most important factors when you want to see success in anything. Let me explain better:
#1 – Simplicity
The Doctor Budget Spreadsheet is super simple to use. All that you have to do is enter in your family’s income and your allotted budget amounts for each category and then simply track the actual expenses that you have throughout the month.
To fill out the spreadsheet for your first time, it will take less than 15 minutes (significantly less if you know how much you plan to spend in each category and your income) and then tracking the expenses takes about 15 minutes as well. To track them, literally all you will do is download your expenses from your credit card or bank account and input them into the spreadsheet.
Then you finish month one – what do you do now? Simply copy the tab into a new sheet and get going again! Again, super simple and user friendly – but don’t worry, if you have any questions, I am more than willing to help answer them for you.
Don’t know how to do this? No worries! I show you exactly how to do it. And as you might expect, like everything else, it’s extremely simple.
You might be at this point thinking that if it was really all about simplicity, then you should just download an app like Mint and use that since it’s automatic. And I completely agree. But guess what – it’s not all about simplicity. It’s also about the tracking aspect!
#2 – Forcibility to track
Now I’ll preface this by saying that I am a huge numbers nerd and I love to track any and everything, but I firmly believe that the best way to achieve your goals, in anything that you do, is to track them. If you want to lose weight, then you need to track what you’re eating and your workouts.
If you want to find out if you’re becoming a better golfer then you need to track your scores, putts, fairways hit, etc. And if you want to track if you’re spending less than you’re making, you need to track your income and your expenses.
Of course, a free app like Mint does this, but it requires no work on your end and you simply don’t get into the numbers. When you are forced to download the data from Chase or your bank or however you spend your money, and then manually look at each expense and code it for groceries, mortgage/rent, phone bill, or anything else, you truly then are getting a good grasp at how much you’re spending each month.
I came to this realization when I first started budgeting and I realized just how much money I was spending on eating out and partying with my friends in a month. It legitimately was more than I was spending on my rent. That was a huge red flag to me, not only for my budget purposes, but also from a health perspective, and it really put things into focus for me.
If I had simply just used an app that categorized that spending as some sort of catch all like “entertainment” or “dining” then it would’ve never hit me. Instead, I called it “wasted money at bars” and then when I would input that line item after line item, it motivated me to make a change.
This is the type of epiphany that you will need to have if you ever actually want to change your ways. If you don’t, fine, keep on living how you have been, but I’m guessing you’re not happy with how things are going if you’re reading a blog post called “The Best Budget Planner Online Today (That’s Also the Simplest to Use)”.
Tracking is extremely important if a change is ever to be made, and if you haven’t experienced this firsthand then let’s start right now with your budget. I guarantee you’ll agree with me at the end of it all.
#3 – Fool Proof
Doctor Budget is literally a fool proof tool for you to utilize and implement. The template is made for you and all that you have to do is code your expenses and personalize it. There are no manual updates, no pivot tables, no formulas – nothing!
You might see that it’s a spreadsheet and instantly get scared, but I promise you it’s extremely easy to use.
One of the most common ways that I see people ruin their budget is that they don’t properly plan for expenses that might arise. This can be easily done simply by going back a few months, downloading your past expenses like you will your future ones, and finding out what you have spent money on in the past to give you an idea of what you might expect in the future.
You also should spend just a few minutes and think about what might be coming up in the following month. Maybe you need to get a new car registration, or an oil change, or a friend is coming into town and you’ll spend more at restaurants – it can literally be anything.
Maybe you want to travel in a few months, so you put ‘travel’ as a budget item for $250 over a few months and just take that money and put it in a savings account.
If you treat it as an expense then you’re going to be much more likely to actually save that money and then when the travel comes, it won’t be nearly as expensive!
The best thing that you can do is plan, so I’ve outlined a few different potential expenses that you might not think of like haircuts, trash removal, presents, and even home improvement!
All of these are things that might happen on a month-to-month basis, but you might not think of beforehand, so I’ll do it for you 😊
It’s impossible to capture every single expense, so I also make sure to have a ‘Misc. Spending’ category and put some money in that because I promise you will go through it. Not having that was a major pitfall for me when I first started budgeting. If it’s $100 or so, no big deal. If it’s consistently a few hundred dollars each month then chances are you can break that up into some smaller categories.
The summary with all of this is that I have been through the trials and tribulations, the successes and failures, and I’m here to share my story and my experiences to help you avoid those same mistakes!
Overall, the best budget is the one that you’re going to stick to, and I have stuck with this for my entire life post college graduation.
So, what does Doctor Budget actually look like? Well, it’s a secret, but I can give some sneak peaks 😉
Essentially it is three main pieces – income, expenses and performance. The income section is very simple:
You simply can input yourself, your spouse, any variable income you might have (birthday cash, tax return, anything) and then it will all be listed under your section that is really defined under income. As you can see, it’s pretty simple to follow.
The next section is the expenses. This is the part that is either fun or tragic, depending on how good you are at following your budget! You can download almost all of this information from your bank account or your credit card company and then simply paste it into the spreadsheet. All that you have to do is fill out the last column from the picture below:
All of these were expenses that I actually had in January 2020, so I would just go into that last column and “code” them to match up with the budget categories that I had assigned to myself. It was super simple and easy, and as I mentioned in the tracking section, this is where you really get that “deep dive” into your expense and you can see if you’re nickel and diming yourself.
For instance, I have four purchases shown above from Amazon! Did I need all of those? Impossible to tell until I actually look at my Amazon orders and see what I purchased and then assign them to the appropriate category.
The last section is the fun section! It’s really an audit of how things have truly been going for the month as well as a final look back at the end of the month:
You’re probably looking at this and going ‘Andy, this is blank’. I know! But once you fill out your ‘Ideal Budget’ section and the ‘Fixed/Variable’ section (which isn’t needed but I like to track my variable spending) then it will auto-populate based off how you coded your actual expenses.
It is just so freaking simple!
If you’re sitting there going, ‘well this is cool and all, but I can make a spreadsheet’ then I urge you to do it! Why would you pay $29 if you didn’t need to? I sure wouldn’t.
But this is for those of you that are needing help getting your financial life on track. I personally have made a lot of mistakes in my budgeting life and I think that purchasing this tool will help alleviate some of those pains and same mistakes for your life.
And probably the coolest part of this is that the spreadsheet isn’t done! It’s never done. I’m always adding new things, updating, optimizing, finding ways to create new things that will help make sure that you are truly on your way from debt to financial autonomy.
Some of the ideas that I have been tinkering with are a savings rate calculator and a debt repayment calculator, as in should you utilize the snowball or the avalanche method and how long will it take you to pay off your debt trying each.
If you’re struggling to decide if you even should budget, then I really think that you should check out this article that I wrote earlier. I know that many people, including me at one point, thought that as long as my bank account was going up then I was fine. Well, boy was I wrong.
That’s great in theory until you have an unexpected expense, like maybe needing a new air conditioning unit like I did last year. If my wife and I hadn’t been planning a “non-emergency big purchase” fund, then we would’ve been in trouble!
Instead, we had saved some money month-by-month, with my budget, to keep us from feeling all of this pain all at the same time, in July, when the air conditioning broke.
I’ll tell you what, I was really freaking sweaty – but it wasn’t from being nervous about trying to figure out how to pay for the AC unit.
Budgeting is for everyone no matter how much you make. If you’re the type that thinks budgeting isn’t for you then I challenge you to get Doctor Budget and see if it’s still not for you.
Many people have this perception that budgeting means you have to get super into the weeds, know all the numbers and track every expense with a pad and paper, pull out the calculator and just crunch numbers hours after hours.
Well, spoiler – Doctor Budget does that for you. All you need is to give up 15 minutes of your time each month. Doctor Budget will pay you back tenfold in straight money, homie.
As always – Stack that Ca$h my friends!