How To Use A Bare Bones Basic Budget (Free Printable)

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Let me show you how to find the numbers to start saving and paying down your debt using a bare bones basic budget.

basic budget spreadsheet
Free Printable Bare Bones Budget

A Simple Budget For Beginners Without Stress

Yes, yes, yes, a budget is essential, and I will say it until I’m blue in the face.

Don’t believe me?

What you do with your money is your business, and I can assure you that this blog is for the people who want money control and the weight of debt lifted.

Living with financial burdens that don’t have an end in sight can cause tremendous health problems, including stress and anxiety.

It may sound unrealistic, but if we don’t have anything to believe in, then there’s no point in budgeting in the first place or setting goals, for that matter.\

If you already plan to fail, then you’ve failed.

If I  could go back ten years and tell myself that budgeting would allow us to live debt-free in our 40s, I might have laughed but certainly listened to the advice.

My money mindset has changed today compared to then, and it’s because I have experienced the ups and downs of life in Canada.

From new jobs, increased income, decreased income, job loss, disability, and everything in between, I’ve been immersed in this new culture.

Our life has been nothing short of waves, and like others, we have had our share of problems that have impacted our financial status, but we made it.

Confronting your financial situation is challenging, but the first step that everyone needs to take is jumping through the hoops of overspending.

You may believe there is no way you are spending more than you earn, but if you’re not getting ahead, there must be a problem.

That was the way we thought about money when we first started budgeting.

We discovered that we could have saved even more money had we targeted our budget numbers from a fundamental standpoint.

Taking the route of calculating figures in our heads and scribblings on paper just didn’t cut it.

Starting With A Budget

canadian budget binder basic budget snap shot

A basic budget is all you need when you start your journey, especially when learning how a budget works.

When we began budgeting, I was the first to say it was intimidating and frustrating.

A recent fan email about budgeting reminded me that I have not explained how we designed our basic budget.

Also, I want to stress why using this form of budgeting is great for getting your feet wet in the finance world.

First, some spreadsheets, such as our detailed free budget download Excel spreadsheet, can be second-level for budget users.

This budget design targeted all the little things that matter in budgeting that we tend to miss out on.

Over time, you will want more from your budget as you get better at budgeting.

People inevitably enjoy learning about where their money is going and want to see more of their future in a photo.

I call this the snapshot budget, which may entail a bank app, detailed budget spreadsheets, or something you create.

Until then, newbies might fare better starting with a printable budget that offers them stability over their money and an understanding of what is coming in and going out.

Using A Budget For The First Time

Using a budget for the first time

Dear Mr.CBB

My husband and I desperately need to get our finances including our massive debt from school under control and we are finally turning to budgeting.

I found your page on Facebook and have since become a regular reader of the blog and have a couple of questions I hope you could help me with.

  1. I’m not a fan of using phone apps or spreadsheets (not confident) so what are my other options?
  2. Do we need to account for every dollar we spend and if yes what is the best route?



Get Organized

Hi Colleen,

Thanks for your questions.

Please don’t be afraid of spreadsheets; they aren’t as scary as you think.

We’ve been programmed to believe that we must have top-notch computer skills to use Excel, word, and essential online tools that companies use today.

The budget is super easy to use, and you can customize it by adding columns and other information as you see fit.

If all you want to know is how much money you are earning and where that money is going, the budget printable is the best starting point.

If you still aren’t convinced about using the Excel spreadsheet, you can print copies of the budget and use the pen-and-paper method of tracking your expenses.

Collect all your receipts, and use bills and banking information to fill in all the blanks.

As mentioned, tracking money in our heads and believing we were under budget, and our savings power was fierce was the wrong way to go about our finances.

The best thing we did for our budget, apart from setting goals, creating a budget, and following through, was asking for our receipts.

Without receipts, you risk losing track of where your money is going, especially if you use cash.

Do you need to track every dollar?

The choice is yours, depending on how thorough of a financial picture you want to see.

I would suggest yes because it gets you used to asking for receipts and keeping organized.

You will also find those receipts will come in handy one day when you want to make a return or challenge a price adjustment or the scanning code of practice. 

What Our Basic Budget Spreadsheet Is, And Isn’t

A budget tracks your income vs. expenses, precisely what you will get.

Allocating your expenses to different categories becomes easier once you know budget basics and how to apply them.

The CBB basic budget is not detailed because I kept it simple for those of you (including ourselves at the time) who are newbies.

Once you get the budgeting itch, you might find that you want to progress to something a bit more advanced.

A budget is also a way to track your net income, which many printable budgets don’t offer.

If I asked you what your spouse net every month from working, you should be able to answer that question.

Perhaps your spouse gets paid differently, then try to estimate based on the past three to six months of net income.

However, if you can’t answer what you net monthly, taking baby steps into the finance world is essential.

Always Review

Most importantly, always check back and review as often as possible.

Don’t be someone who becomes a success story and loses everything because of too much confidence in handling money.

Lastly, read my Mini 10-Step Budgeting Basics Course for all the tips we used to create our budget. It’s a free, valuable tool for all of my blog subscribers.

Discussion: Did you start with a basic budget or jump into something more advanced?

Where Our Money Went In May

May 2018 Month Income and Expenses

Hey everyone!

Another decent month was had at the CBB household, with extra income from selling unused items around the house.

Sounds exciting, but we have expenses that will increase in the next few months, including a new fence which we’re looking at around $7k, a deck, and other landscaping in the backyard.

As far as spending in May, there was not much out of the ordinary; however, more trips back to my mother-in-law’s house saw us spend more on eating out.

Since she no longer cooks with her disease, we are left with eating out, although we pack a cooler with snacks for the ride down.

Home Maintenance went up as I started to buy items for jobs around the house, plus we purchased plants to decorate the outside for the summer.

Our daycare expenses also increased a bit since we had to add extra days in May for Mrs. CBB to help her mother with doctor appointments.

Have a great month, everyone!!


Simple Budgeting Series

Please take the time to read through our series and Budgeting in the New Year.

I hope the information will help stop you from making common budgeting mistakes.

  1. How We Designed Our Budget Step 1 Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed Our Budget Step 2Categories
  3. How We Designed Our Budget Step 3– Tracking Receipts
  4. How We Designed Our Budget Step 4-  Note-taking
  5. How We Designed Our Budget Step 5– 5S Organization
  6. How We Designed Our Budget Step 6– Who Does What and When?
  7. How We Designed Our Budget Step 7– Balancing
  8. How We Designed Our Budget Step 8– Knowing Coupon Savings
  9. How We Designed Our Budget Step 9– Reading Bills
  10. How We Designed Our Budget Step 10 Projected Expenses

Percentages May 2018

May 2018 Household Percentages

Our savings of 31.79% include investments as well as any protection for this month based on the income of $8,788.66.

We put money away for the projected expenses that must be paid in the coming months.

The other categories were reasonably standard this month, even if the Life Ratio is a little high and close to the maximum.

All categories took 100% of our income, showing that all the money we earned for the month was accounted for.

Percentages Month By Month

May 2018 Month by Month

Breaking Down Expenses

Below is a breakdown of our expenses, which helps us understand where all our money goes.

Since May 2014, we’ve been mortgage-free, so much of our money will be directed at savings, investments, and renovations.

I hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your financial numbers, as our situations are unique.

Spending less than we earn and budgeting our money has been the easiest way for us to pay down debt and save money.

It may be different for you.

  1. Chequing– This is the bank account from which all our debt gets paid.
  2. Emergency Savings Account– This is a high-interest savings account.
  3. Regular Savings Account– This savings account holds our projected expenses.
  4. Monthly Budgeted Total: $5,376.40
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$8,788.66
  6. (Check out our Ultimate Grocery Guide to see where our grocery money goes)
  7. Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $1,967.68
  8. Total Expenses Paid Out: $5,627.10
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $8,788.66 (total net monthly income) – $1,967.68 (projected expenses) – $1,193.88 (savings in to emergency fund) = $5,627.10
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $8,788.66 (total monthly net income) – $5,627.10 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1967.68 (projected expenses) = $1,193.88


Time for the juicy category numbers and to see how we made out with our monthly budget.

Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget, and the other is our actual budget for May 2018.

The following financial numbers represent two adults and a toddler plus retirement investments.

Colour Codes

If highlighted in blue, that means it is a projected expense.

Budgeted Amounts for May 2018

May Budgeted Budget amounts 2018

Actual Expenses For May 2018

May 2018 Actual Monthly Budget
Actual Expenses

Updates Month By Month

In case you missed our updates and want to do a quick search, I’ve compiled them on one handy page: monthly budgets.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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One Comment

  1. Thanks, Mr. CBB! I’m impressed at the details of these budget summaries. I think I’m more of the “barebones” type, The Pie of Life type, or the Gail Vaz Oxblade categories type. Whichever way, the benefit of using a budget is indisputable. You can see all the buckets where your money is going into, and it gives you some feeling of control. There are times when I’m left with such little disposable income, but at least I know where the rest of my income went — ie, mortgage, RRSPs, RESPs, insurance, groceries, etc. Yes, some months we have stuck to our budget, some months we are under budget and some months required more spending. The benefit I get out of monthly budgeting is that if I’ve had a heavy spending month, then I know that I have to cut back significantly in the next month to balance it out.

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