Free Debt and Budget Spreadsheet

One of the more popular articles on Married (with Debt) is part of our 10 Rules to Eliminate Debt and Change Your Life - the part where we make a debt and budget spreadsheet to track our bills, debts owed and daily spending.

I get an email almost every day asking for a free copy of the one I use. If you would like a copy for yourself, just email me through the Contact page and I’ll send you the Microsoft Excel budget template I built.

Because this was such an important tool in helping us get out of debt, I wanted to talk more about why having a debt and bills due spreadsheet is important:

  • Gets both partners looking at their money as “our money” and focused on one goal
  • Gives you a place to keep track of what has been paid, and what needs to be paid
  • Tracks your progress as we work towards debt freedom
Debt Tracking Budget

Click to enlarge. This is my debt and bill spreadsheet with embedded instructions for use.

Gets Both Partners on the Same Page

If you are married or otherwise in a committed relationship that involves the combining of finances and want to get out of debt, you need a plan. A debt and budget spreadsheet is your reference point.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves and begin attacking debt like a drunken sailor, it is critical that we take some time and put all our expenses into an easy to use and follow format. If you’ve been living separate money lives, playing the game of “I’ll pay for cable if you pay for the gym membership and the power bill,” this can be a great chance for both partners to see everything as one equation, and more importantly, to see that it can be solved.

 

Keep Track of What Needs to be Paid

A debt and budget spreadsheet is like a homepage for your money. If you are working from an old-school accordion file or some other system that leaves you with bills and receipts falling out of every pocket, chances are you are missing payment due dates and getting late charges.

In the best case scenario, you are missing the big picture and are unable to see the complex equation that is “money in, money out.”

Late or missed payments can be eliminated by keeping track of bills due in a spreadsheet. That way if one gets lost in the mail or falls between the car seats, it doesn’t become a missed payment. If you can see it on your chart and notice it hasn’t been marked as paid, you can call your creditor to arrange payment before it becomes late, or pay it online.

For many, the first step in taking control of money is to stop missing payments.

 

Tracks Your Progress Towards Debt Freedom

A debt and budget spreadsheet, along with a debt payoff calculator, are a great way to keep your get out of debt journey in context. If it’s going to take one year, you can see it and track it on your chart.

If it’s going to take three years, at least you know that going in and can prepare yourself mentally for the long journey ahead.

Though we are making sure that both partners are on the same page, it is probably a good idea to designate one partner as the person to keep the chart updated. I’ve mentioned this before, but when it comes to my wife and I, I view myself as the CFO of the family business, meaning I take the active role in planning the big picture of where our money goes and making sure payments are made. I view my wife as the CEO, the person who makes the daily spending decisions that keep us spending less than we earn and on track.

Even if one person is in charge of the debt and budget spreadsheet, make sure you are reviewing it together at least once a month and comparing the current month to previous months to establish trends.

 

Whatever Method You Choose, Stick With It

If you want some more in-depth instructions on how to use my debt and budget spreadsheet, make sure you read this article.

If you use a spreadsheet or just a notebook, the important thing is that you have everything on it, and that you are consistently keeping it updated. Eventually you will enjoy watching your debts go down and knowing that the days of missed payments and “I thought you were paying that” are well behind you.

 

Readers: What do you use to keep track of your debts and spending?

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26 Comments
  1. I use an excel sheet from pear budget. It’s very simple and extremely easy to use. I would recommend it for anyone who isn’t particularly good at using excel.

    In terms of finances, as long as both people (if you’re combining all of your funds) are on board, I find it easier to just have one person manage the spreadsheet.
    thethriftyspendthrift recently posted..Ignoring “Advice” When Buying a HomeMy Profile

  2. That looks like a well thought out spreadsheet. It’s awesome that you have embedded instructions into it to make it more helpful for people you share it with. Have you ever considered turning it into a separate software program with the help of a freelance programmer?

    I also like how you and your wife take on clear roles with your family finances. That must make it a lot smoother when one person is ultimately in control in one side of it.
    Modest Money recently posted..How Breaking Up Is The Best Kick In The Ass Money Can BuyMy Profile

  3. That is a pretty intense spreadsheet. I have two excel spreadsheets that I teach my clients to use (and that I personally use myself).

    I do like the method you’ve come up with though and I’d certainly encourage anybody out there to GET ON A BUDGET! It’s pretty amazing how much it helps your financial situation once you write down all of your bills and figure out how much money you have left at the end of each month.
    WorkSaveLive recently posted..Cool Smartphone App & $500 Amazon Gift Card GIVEAWAY!My Profile

  4. I put together personal financial statement templates and share them on Google Docs for free. It would be cool to be able to jump on your site and find links like that, and it would save you the email hassle.
    Eric recently posted..Do You Need a Smart Credit Card?My Profile

  5. This is awesome John. Very detailed and thorough! My BF has a pretty complicating spreadsheet too since he has a lot of loans. I will have to delve into that area pretty soon. For now I do not need a spreadsheet since I have no debt. I just use Mint to track my budget/spending.

    I may have to email you for this spreadsheet soon!
    From Shopping to Saving recently posted..Shopping Smart & Not Settling For LessMy Profile

  6. Oh, I for sure use excel and a spread sheet I’ve made. Yours looks so great; I’m afraid mine isn’t as fancy. I love the debt payoff calculator section. May have to email you for this!
    femmefrugality recently posted..How to Tredecuple Your CoinageMy Profile

  7. I love, love, LOVE that spreadsheet. I’m actually kind of jealous. I do use a spreadsheet to track all my budgets and goals but not as pretty as that one. And I have been using a notebook and sticky notes as follow ups.
    bogofdebt recently posted..Spending Recap 6-11 to 6/17My Profile

  8. Your spreadsheet is awesome. I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of my budgets, but after looking at yours it looks like I have to reshape it. Yours is so fancy.
    Casper Wayne recently posted..Kim Kardashian Ripped DressMy Profile

  9. This has to be the most thorough and complete spreadsheet that I’ve ever encountered. Your photo illustration and your explanation pertaining to its usefulness are two unique selling points.

    Everyone needs to be on a budget, and having access a powerful spreadsheet will certainly put a lot of people on the right track. This is the one that I would absolutely recommend.

  10. John, the spreadsheet you made is AWESOME! Jeff and I are busy with swim team tonight, but I might just have to email you later to get one of those! We are pretty organized financially right now, using Mint.com and a spreadsheet on our shared computer, but we are competitive as you-know-what…so if we can be even more organized and it could benefit our spending, I will try anything! I agree with you 100% that both parties need to be aware of what’s going on in your finances, regardless of how much you both bring home.
    Michelle recently posted..My Expensive Vice That Went Up In FlamesMy Profile

  11. …”begin attacking debt like a drunken sailor.” Awesome line. I wish there were more people who thought about just paying down debt all willy nilly crazy-like.
    AverageJoe recently posted..The Worst of the Free Financial Advisor, Episode #13: Top 5 Ways to Teach Young Children About MoneyMy Profile

  12. I’ve created one similar to this but much more complicated. Took way too much time to make. But it allows me to add in extra payments on just a one month basis. So if I know I’ll get a raise next year, I can change how much I can add on a month by month basis.

    The simplicity of this is probably worth it in itself though.
    Glenn recently posted..דודי שמש 2My Profile

  13. That looks pretty nicely done! I’ve got my own version I use (because I LOVE Excel), but either way everyone should have something like this to work from. I think there’d be a lot less issues if we did!
    MyMoneyDesign recently posted..No Posts Were Found!My Profile

  14. “Free Debt and Budget Spreadsheet – Married (with Debt)” honestly makes
    me ponder a tiny bit further. I actually admired each and
    every individual element of it. Thanks for
    your time -Peter

  15. Hello, Can you email me your excel spreadsheet? Looks great! Thanks, Jenny

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