I wanted to take a second to update you on something I’ve spent a lot of time developing to help fellow money savers such as yourself.
You see, over the past 10 years of running this website – I’ve learnt a thing or two about saving money. One of the biggest things people ask me is ‘how do I start a budget and stick to it?’.
I too have been in your shoes and wondering how on earth I begin to make sense of my money and find truly meaningful ways to cut my costs and pocket the savings. The one thing I have learnt is that the key to saving money is starting a budget.
This means taking the time to truly understand where you spend your money. All too often we just float by, month to month, with very little understanding of where our money goes. Each couple of dollars you spend adds up and before you know it – your account is empty and you are starving for your next pay day.
It’s from being in this exact position that I decided to explore the world of budgeting. By explore, I mean searching the internet for 100’s of budget spreadsheet templates to find the most effective way to track my finances.
I tried mobile apps that promised to automate everything and quickly lost interest. They were overly complex, bad at categorising my spending and worst of all – my personal data was being stored on some website server overseas. I can barely talk to my friends about how much I earn, let alone sleep at night knowing every last detail of my financial situation was stored online somewhere.
I also tried downloading free budgeting templates that other people had made. They were often US centric and not really what I was after. I have a Superannuation account, not a ‘401K’ and nor do I want to budget money for ‘gas’ – it’s called petrol!
It was after trying 15+ budget templates that I came up with a radical idea to help myself (and little did I know, you too!) – I created my own budget spreadsheet.
My first creation was rather ugly. It was a bare bones budget that aimed to track every one of my expenses and weigh it all up against the amount of money I was earning, along with my savings and investments. I did this in Microsoft Excel given my desire to NOT store my personal information online.
After a few months of tracking my finances via my budget spreadsheet, I realised that I was onto something. I was starting to save money, reduce my expenses and chip away at my goals. For the first time ever, I could see where every dollar of my money was going. Every few weeks I would look to cut some expenses; which was made much easier by the fact I could see where my money was being allocated.
Fast forward 6 months and I’d achieved my first big goal. I’d repaid $25,000 in bad debits (credit cards and personal loans) and was starting to scheme up ways to invest my money to grow it (given I no longer had pesky debt repayments).
After using this budget spreadsheet to pay off my debt I had a reader contact me asking how it was that I managed to repay such a large sum of money so quickly. I explained to her it was using my budget and staying disciplined with my budget plan. I sent her a copy of the budget spreadsheet after realising it might help her. Not long after, I got an email from the same reader stating they had passed my spreadsheet on to their friends and they were all tracking their money together and holding regular catch ups to discuss how they were progressing. One thing leads to another and before I knew it, I had a bunch of people following my budget spreadsheet formula to not only keep their finances honest – but save towards big goals. I was so chuffed that someone else saw value in what I had made, even more so than the 100’s of free spreadsheets that were available online.
It was around this time that I decided to do something radical. I decided I would redesign the spreadsheet visually and get some professional help to make it even better. I engaged a financial modelling company that specializes in Excel and making truly remarkable spreadsheets and decided to pay them a few thousand dollars to further refine and help me create the budget planner of my dreams.
After a while of backwards and forwards (and one hefty bill later) – I had my spreadsheet back, but in a beautiful form factor that used graphs, monthly tracking and a heap of cool tools to plan my goals. My budget planner was complete and exactly how I knew it should be setup for thrifty money savers like myself.
After giving this spreadsheet away for free to readers as a gesture of good will, many readers told me I should instead sell it online for a small fee to help recover my costs and pay for the expenses of running Savings Guide. After a bit of trepidation, I agreed this was a good idea. After all, it costs nearly $1000 to run the Savings Guide website each month and I was barely covering that expense with the small number of ads I was running.
I figured it was a win/win situation. People could purchase a copy of my budget spreadsheet for a once off fee and in turn they would be supporting the running costs of Savings Guide – a blog that has posted nearly 1000 articles on how to save money and get ahead in life.
Looking for a budget spreadsheet and want to support Savings Guide?
I would love you to consider using the budget spreadsheet I created.
You can download the spreadsheet via this website that I built – aptly named ‘BudgetSpreadsheet.com.au’. Upon making payment, you will be instantly sent a copy of the Budget Spreadsheet so you can get started right away.
Thanks for listening to my story and I truly hope my budget spreadsheet can help motivate you and get you on top of your finances.
AJ (Founder of Savings Guide and chief money saver)
PS: If you enter the coupon code “BUDGET5” on the payment page, you will get $5 off as a small thank you for taking the time to read this article and hear my story.
PPS: If you aren’t ready to download the budget spreadsheet, read more about what makes a good personal home budget.