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

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basic budget spreadsheet

A Simple Budget For Beginners Doesn’t Have To Be Stressful

Let me show you how easy it is to get the numbers you need to start saving and paying down your debt with a basic budget.

Yes, yes, yes a budget is important 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 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 10 years now and tell myself that budgeting would allow us to live debt-free in our 40’s including wiping out a mortgage I might have laughed but certainly listened to what advice I had to give.

My money mindset has changed today compared to then and it’s because I have experienced the ups and downs of life in Canada, new jobs, increased income, decreased income, job loss, disability and everything in between.

Our life has been nothing short of waves and like everyone else we have had our fair share of problems that have impacted our financial status but we made it. You can too!

Confronting your financial situation is tough but a first step that everyone needs to take in order to jump through the hoops of overspending.

You may believe there is no way you are spending more than you earn and perhaps you’re not.

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

What we found out was that we could have saved even more money had we targeted our budget numbers from a basic budget standpoint.

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

Starting With A Basic Budget

canadian budget binder basic budget snap shot

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

When we began budgeting I’m the first to step forward and say that it was intimidating and frustrating for first-timers.

A recent fan email about budgeting reminded me that I have yet to explain to all of you how we designed our basic budget spreadsheet (don’t panic).

Also, I want to stress why it’s great to use this form of budgeting to get your feet wet in the finance world.

First of all, there are spreadsheets that can be second-level for budget users such as our free budget download excel spreadsheet that is detailed.

The reason behind this budget design was to target all of the little things that matter in budgeting that we tend to miss out on.

Over time even with your basic budget and as you get better at budgeting, you WILL want more from your budget.

I find that it’s inevitable that people enjoy learning about where their money is going and want to see more of the future in a photo.

This is the snapshot accelerated budget which may entail a bank app, detailed budget spreadsheets or something you create.

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

Using A Simple 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 Yourself Organized When Budgeting For The First Time

Hi Colleen,

Thanks for your questions.

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

We’ve been programmed to believe that we must have top-notch computer skills to use excel, word, and power-point which are some of the basic online tools that most companies use today.

The basic budget that I’ve created is super easy to use and you can customize it by adding in columns and other information as you see fit.

If all you want to know is how much money you are earning (net income) and where that money is going our basic budget sheet is the best starting point for you.

If you still aren’t convinced with using the excel spreadsheet you can simply print copies of the budget and use the pen and paper method of tracking your expenses.

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

Like I mentioned earlier 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 money habits.

The best thing we did for our budget apart from setting goals, creating a budget and following through is 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 that 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 is meant to track your income vs. expenses and this is exactly what you will get.

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

Our basic budget spreadsheet is not detailed and this is because our aim was to keep it simple for those of you (including ourselves at the time) who are learning to budget.

Once you get the budgeting itch you might find that you want to progress to something a bit more advanced which is our next-level free budget download which we currently use in the CBB house.

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

If I asked you what your spouse took home every month you should be able to answer that question.

However, if you can’t answer what you net monthly then it’s important to take baby steps into the basic budget which will help with this.

Always Review Your Monthly Budgets

Most importantly always check back and review your budget as often as you can because falling off the budget is far easier than starting one.

Don’t be that person who becomes a success story and loses it all because of too much confidence in the way money is handled.

No one is safe, not even the richest of the rich!

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

Leave your comments below.

If you have a budget question for me please email me via the contact form on the blog.

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 coming in from the selling of unused items around the house.

Sounds exciting but we have expenses that will be blowing up our budget in the next few months including a new fence which we’re looking at around $7k, deck and other landscaping in the back-yard.

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 do 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 bought a bunch of plants to decorate the outside of the house for the summer from Costco.

Our daycare expenses also went up 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!!


Our FREE Simple Budgeting Series

Do you want to learn to budget like we do?

Please take the time to read through our budgeting series plus read 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 2Budget Categories
  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 Our Budget
  8. How We Designed Our Budget Step 8– Knowing our Coupon Savings
  9. How We Designed Our Budget Step 9– Reading Our Bills
  10. How We Designed Our Budget Step 10 Projected Expenses

Budget percentages May 2018

May 2018 Household Percentages

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

We put money away for the projected expenses for things that need to be paid for in the coming months.

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

All of the categories took 100% of our income which shows that all the money we earned for the month is accounted for.

Budget percentages month by month

May 2018 Month by Month

Breaking down expenses

Below is a breakdown of our expenses which helps us to understand where all of 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 appreciate that you enjoy this budget update each month but I do hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your own financial numbers as our situations are all 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 where all of our debt gets paid from.
  2. Emergency Savings Account– This is a high-interest savings account.
  3. Regular Savings Account– This is a savings account that 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 Actually 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

Budget Results

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 the month of May 2018.

This budget represents 2 adults and a toddler plus retirement investments.

Budget colour chart

If highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expense. You will also see our budget does not include the emergency savings as it’s factored in at the end.

Monthly Budget for May 2018

May Budgeted Budget amounts 2018

Actual budget expenses for May 2018

May 2018 Actual Monthly Budget

Budget updates month by month

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

That’s all for this month check back at the beginning of July 2018 (sometimes in the middle) to see how we made out with our June budget.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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