How to Create a Budget in Under 10 Minutes a Day

May 17, 2012


One of the biggest reasons people don’t have a budget is because of time constraints. Especially when it comes to starting your budget, gathering all of the information you need and picking a budgeting program or designing your own budget spreadsheet can be time consuming.

Luckily, a budget doesn’t need to be very complicated to be effective. And if you follow these steps, you can easily manage your money in less than ten minutes a day. In fact, if you’re efficient, you may be able to budget in as little as ten minutes per week.

Start by Getting Your Finances Organized

Nearly all of the transactions that you need to make a budget are included in your checking account and credit card accounts. Actually, your credit card payments are also included in your checking account, so for a more simple budget, you can track your finances by simply keeping a running tab of your checking account.

Most people pay their bills a few times each month. When you do, simply list all of your transactions in a spreadsheet. In your spreadsheet, add a column for each transaction with the date, source (ATM, debit card, check number, or direct deposit), amount, account balance, budget category and description. Make sure that you check your online banking so that you can add any debit and direct transactions to your spreadsheet.

If you also want to show some detail about your credit card transactions, you can add this too, but you should use a separate list so that you don’t account for credit card spending twice. This part of your budgeting can usually be done in a few minutes per day or less than a half hour per week.

[Ben’s Note: This is one of the reasons why I ;put most of our expenses on our Blue Cash credit card and use online bill pay for most everything else. Being able to download and analyze all your spending in a spreadsheet or personal finance software makes it easy to see where your money is going.]

Summarize Your Spending Once a Month

Now that you’ve got a list of all of your major financial transactions, use it to create a monthly budget summary. A budget summary is really very simple. It shows your income and expenses for each category. To compute it, you already have all of the information in your checking spreadsheet.

If you are good with spreadsheets, you can easily create a pivot table that will summarize the transactions for you in just a few clicks of the mouse. For help with this step, you can use a video tutorial on how to create a budget spreadsheet.

When you are finished with this step, you will have a summarized list of each expense and income category. It is essentially a simplified budget, but it is all you really need. If you want to create a more detailed or easier to read budget, continue to the next step.

Enter the Summarized Information Into a Budget Template

The previous steps shouldn’t have taken long to execute, so you may have some time left to make your budget a little more detailed and easier to read. After all, one month’s worth of expenses typically doesn’t include things like your annual property taxes, income taxes, and insurance payments. That’s because many expenses only come up once or twice a year.

To account for these, you can enter the information you calculated in the step above to a household budget template. This will add a portion of the annual fees into each month’s budget so you can have a better picture of where you stand financially. This step could take as long as an hour or two to set up the first time, but each month after that you should be able to do it in just a few minutes.

While this method of budgeting is very simple, it is effective because you can easily customize it and keep it as simple as possible. This will save you a lot of time as compared to other budgeting techniques, and is a great way to start organizing your finances in the hopes of saving more money.

Chris Snelling has been writing articles about money related topics for over twelve years. His most recent endeavor has been creating Budget Ways, a resource devoted to budgeting and saving money.

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Ben
Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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9 Responses to How to Create a Budget in Under 10 Minutes a Day

  • Ornella

    Writing/tracking down the reasons you made the purchase–bills, shopping, food– will help give you a better insight into your spending habits.

    In conjuction with analyzing the figures, you can make behavioral changes. Budgeting will then become easier. Plus, you easily allocate your money once you have better insights to your spending habits.

  • CLARA

    it’s a good idea.we can solve our financial problems under 10 minutes.Let’s try and feel the result

  • Biljana

    This is very useful. I find myself earning a great deal of money renting out spare rooms, but as the income gets bigger, i get even greater expenses. Making a budget template will definitely be useful for me. And unplanned expenses take a great deal fo my earning and i feel like i have not made any profit. Definitely have to start planning better.
    Thanks for the great post

  • Katie Christianson

    Budgeting is a MUST. The key is getting a receipt every time you buy something so you know where your money is going

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