Do you want to get your financial life in order but don't know where to start? If you're looking to be more responsible with your money, a budget is a great way to start. But creating a budget can be tricky because it's easy to overestimate or under-estimate your spending.
That's where using a free printable budget worksheet comes in. It can help make the process easier, especially if you enjoy crafty physical planners rather than an online spreadsheet.
So, we've scoured the net to find the best printable budget worksheets that you can use. Not only are these worksheets effective in helping you stay on top of your monthly bills and finances, but they’re also great to look at and fun to use!
We've curated different types of downloadable budget planners that are simple yet practical. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or a pro, these printable budget sheets are user-friendly and will help you organize your money.
You won't want to miss reading about any of the printables on this list because some types are more suited to certain people and situations. Also, you won't need to go through the confusion of finding your budget templates elsewhere.
In this article
What to Look for in a Printable Budget Template
You can find many different kinds of free budget templates available online that can be printed anytime. But for a lot of people who are just starting to manage their money, choosing a template can be quite overwhelming.
Which type of budgeting should you use? Which one is effective for you? Do you really need to detail your spending?
While everyone has their own opinion on what type of budgeting is best, the reality is that there's no wrong way to create a budget.
As long as your spending plan helps you save more, you're not going over your income, and you're achieving your financial goals, then it's most likely the right type of budget for you.
On that note, there are a few things you should consider when choosing a budget template to help make your life easier.
The Template Suits Your Financial Lifestyle
Budget templates can be very basic with just two columns to track income and expenses, or they can be as in-depth as you want them to be with many different categories.
Think about what your financial goals are and how detailed you need to get to accomplish those goals.
For example, if you’re budgeting for a family of five people, you might need a comprehensive budget sheet with multiple categories and a detailed breakdown of your expenses.
However, if you're only responsible for yourself and your basic living expenses, then a simple sheet to keep track of where all your money is going might be enough.
In our list of budget templates in the next section, we will identify what types of people these templates are best suited for.
The Template Reflects Your Financial Philosophy
Another thing to consider is whether the budget sheet is following a budgeting method that you believe in and will be able to incorporate into your routine.
The three most popular budgeting methods are:
- Envelope System – This method of budgeting is where you physically separate your cash into envelopes for each category. When the money runs out, that's it until next month.
- 50/30/20 Rule – In this rule, you’re splitting your income into three different categories: 50% for necessary spending, 30% on wants, 20% on savings.
- Zero-Based Budget – This method is the most detailed system of the three. With this system, you’re tracking every single dollar that goes into and out of your bank account.
We’ve included free printable budget worksheets using these popular systems in our list so you can further review which one will fit your needs.
The Template Is Easy for You to Use
The format of the budget templates also varies in how they’re set up. Again, you need to consider what kind of budgeting system and how in-depth you want to get when determining this factor.
Think about what works best for you and how many categories you're going to need. If your template is too complex, then you might not use it as often as needed, which defeats the point of having a budget in the first place.
On the other hand, a budget that is too simplistic for what you need, might not help you save enough or achieve your goals.
6 Must-Try Free Printable Budget Templates
Now that we have covered the things you should look for in a budget template, let's take a look at some available options.
As mentioned above, there are many different kinds of templates to choose from depending on what works best for your financial situation.
We've chosen different types of free printable budget templates to suit different needs and lifestyles.
1. Make a Budget Template from the Federal Trade Commission
- General Budgeting Purposes
- Expense Tracker
If you don’t have any idea of how to create a budget, this free downloadable PDF budget worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a great way to start. The FTC is a consumer protection agency of the US government.
What makes the FTC budget template a great resource is that it lists down the common expenses Americans have. It’s then helpful for budget beginners who aren’t sure what exactly goes into a budget.
This budget worksheet is focused on listing down your income and tracking your expenses. The only downside is that you don't really have much flexibility to add more fields or detail out other expenses.
2. The 50/30/20 Rule Free Printable Budget Template
- People who want to save for specific expenses or items
- People who want to enjoy their income without sacrificing their savings
- People who aren’t yet sure what expenses are coming
This free printable budget worksheet is from the Majority App website and it reflects the 50/30/20 financial philosophy.
It divides expenses into three categories:
- 50% Needs – These are your necessities every month. From monthly bills to food and transportation, these are the expenses that you must pay whether or not your budget is balanced.
- 30% Wants – These are the extra things you would like to buy every month, such as entertainment, travel, and dining out.
- 20% Savings – This is where you will be putting some of your money for specific savings or personal financial goals. Take note that this 20% can also pertain to your investments and retirement.
Here is the free 50/30/20 Budget template from the Majority app website.
3. The Zero-Based Free Printable Budget Templates
Great for: People who like to be detailed down to the last dollar.
As explained in the earlier section, the zero-based budget demands that you become very detailed in your finances.
Every dollar from your income has to be allocated so that you have zero budget at the end of the month.
That doesn’t mean that you’ll spend all of your money. It means that you have accounted for all your money and expenses even if they are small.
We have two free budget templates that follow this budgeting method:
The Zero-Based Budget Free Printable Template from Moritz Fine Design is a colorful template with detailed categories.
The Free Zero-Based Budget Worksheet from Vertex42 has blank customizable fields so you can fill in your detailed expenses.
4. Cash Envelope Printable Budget Labels
- People who use cash heavily
- People with no major bills to pay
- People who can be flexible in their spending and expenses
If you like to use the old-school cash envelope system, you can use these printable labels from carrieelle.com and stick them to physical envelopes. You can then manually write the expenses at the back of the envelopes every time you take out cash.
5. Family Printable Budget Worksheets
Great for: Families who need to track expenses for more than one person.
If your main concern is to budget for the entire family, here are 3 budget worksheets you can print and use:
The Budget Worksheet from amomstake.com is a colorful budget sheet that details the usual family expenses. It also differentiates the expected amount from the actual amount paid so you can track the difference.
Another great template is this free budget worksheet from Pretty Presets. Aside from tracking the projected and actual amount, it also has columns to indicate the due date and whether the expense has been paid.
6. College Printable Budget Worksheet
- College students who want a detailed guide on managing their money
- College students on a tight budget
- College students who want to save for a big purchase
This free printable budget planner from the University of Massachusetts is perfect for students who want to manage their money early.
It’s unique from the other budgeting worksheets because there are items that are college-specific like allowance, financial aid, gifts, and tuition fees. It also has a space in the beginning for creating a financial goal.
How to Use a Budget Template
If you're not sure how to use one of the budget templates above, here are some tips to help you out:
- Keep the printed budget worksheet in a place that's easily accessible to you. This way, you won't forget to fill it in or refer to it when needed.
- If possible, create your budget ahead of time, at least a week before your income hits your bank account. This means that you can record your spending as early as possible so you have a better idea of how to manage your money.
- Set a certain time every day or week to check your budget worksheet versus your actual spending.
Why Should You Use a Printable vs a Budgeting App?
If you have a smartphone, it's very likely that there’s a budgeting app you can download. A lot of these apps can be used to set a budget and monitor actual spending, so why should you bother with a printable budget template?
- Keep your finances private
A lot of people are more comfortable keeping their finances private and one of the risks of entering your finances in a budgeting app is that your bank account details and spending history could be shared with the app's developers.
With a printable budget template, you don't need to worry about this because there’s no risk of sharing any personal information even if your sheet were to get lost or fall into the wrong hands.
- Best for crafty but not tech-savvy people
Another advantage of a printable budget worksheet is that it can cater to people who aren’t very tech-savvy and who would rather have a physical copy of their budget instead of having to track it on a smartphone.
- Keep important financial records safe
Lastly, if you lose access to the app, you might also lose access to all the important financial records that you have saved in your mobile device. Having a printed budget, however, will ensure that you don't lose everything just because something happened to your phone.
Use the Free Printable Budget Worksheet That's Best For You
The main goal of using a budget worksheet is to help you manage your finances more efficiently. The free printable worksheets we have in this blog post are great resources to start your journey toward better financial health.
However, you should always make sure that the budget sheet is best suited for your needs. More importantly, be consistent in filling out your budget sheet and follow the budget you set for yourself.