The Get Rich Slowly Budget Workbook (Version 2.0)

Last month Stephen Popick shared his home-grown budget spreadsheet with GRS readers. He listened to your suggestions and went back to the drawing board. Here is with an updated version.

Growing up, I was taught the importance of having a budget.  It wasn't until I finished college that I understood it.  I started reading and listening to financial experts such as John Bogle, Clarke Howard, and a lot of folks in between.  Their recurring themes were simply to save as much as you could, live below your means, and choose wisely how you spend your money.

Before I started with my Budget Sheet, which has evolved over the years (and which has been greatly enhanced for GRS), I always thought I budgeted well.  Making an actual budget showed that, in fact, I did not.  It's amazing how far $50 can be stretched when you're aware of it.

Based on your feedback, this second version of the Get Rich Slowly budget workbook has seen a lot of changes. Here's a brief outline of what you'll find inside.

The Budgets
These two worksheets — one for your budget, and one for your spouse's budget — are designed to be highly customizable.   The pale yellow, purple, and shaded green cells are the editable cells.  They've been placed in accordance with the most likely expenditure pattern for their category.

Additionally, the Budgets are split between primary expenses and secondary expenses.  For the most part, secondary expenses can be considered to be your splurge budget, broken down so you have an expectation of how it will be spent.

New users should enter their actual expenses first in the yellow/purple shaded cells, and then enter their income information (which should all be contained on your pay stub).   The final budget line at the bottom of the sheet will tell you the balance.  I recommend that the final balance be positive, but not overly so.  For instance, having an excess balance of $5 a week yields a fudge factor, in case you can't avoid that box of donuts and coffee with your coworkers.

 

Retirement Planning
The retirement planning sheet makes several assumptions that may or may not reflect reality.  For instance, it assumes constant returns, steady inflation, etc, steady savings rate, etc.  However, it is useful as a guide, to see how much and for how long it approximately takes to get to a certain savings point.  Most of the data is auto-fed from the budget sheet.  Users can change the rate of return of pre-tax and post-tax investment, the expected inflation rate, and their expected raise rate in the yellow shaded cells.

Mortgage Planning
This simple tool will show the total cost of interest vs. principle, and how various schemes to pay off the mortgage will affect your bottom line.  This is a simple form of analysis, and hopefully will become more advanced over time.   Use our mortgage calculator to enter your information into the yellow shaded cells.  When one position is paid off, you can note the year/month it ends and proceed to analyzing the remainder with a second pull.

This budget workbook continues to evolve. Thanks to all those who have already helped with some great ideas. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments about the budget workbook here.

Kudos to Popick for all his work on this spreadsheet!

More about...Budgeting

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Tyler
Tyler
13 years ago

Ick! What a mess…. I’ll gladly stick to my very user friendly MS Money any day over this spreadsheet. This SS is very hard on the eyes (what’s with the color?), not user friendly, and the layout is terrible (I hate having to search for info to get info back!). Things need to follow some sort of standard like a balance sheet or cash flow statement. In any case, it needs work.

Dave
Dave
13 years ago

I understand that budgets are important tools for many people, but I’ve always taken that route that Thomas Stanley discusses in his great book “The Millionaire Next Door.” He talked about those millionaires who don’t budget but rather create an artificial economic environment of relative scarcity for themselves and their household. That is, they simply live far, far below their means and automatically “pay themselves first” in various investment accounts. Even though Dave Ramsey insists people make a budget, I’ve been able to accomplish most all his baby-steps w/out one … I’m currently on baby-step #6 — pay off your… Read more »

DC Economist
DC Economist
13 years ago

Budgets work for some folks, and don’t work for others. Kudos to you if you’re able to control your spending without a budget. Despite my economic training, I’m not able to.

As to the un-user friendliness of the budget sheet, well, I hadn’t gotten that before. It’s no MS Money and is not designed as a substitute. It is however, free to use.

Nathan
Nathan
13 years ago

D31-D33 should be E31*12, not E31*2 I think it’s a pretty comprehensive sheet, the only other addition I’d like to see would be an alternate investment account, not necessary your 401k/IRA investment, but money you play with on the side. And I agree with the theory that budgets are great just to “keep score” and make sure you’re not running into any pitfalls. I personally will fill out my info, make conservative estimations, and then just try to live as far below that as possible. I don’t find it personally useful to try to allocate certain amounts for everything. I… Read more »

joshuat
joshuat
13 years ago

When I went through FPU, I used the paper based budgeting forms. My wife preferred them, and we used them for a couple years, never going to a computer program to do our budget. We made some mathematical errors here and there, so we took the basic forms from FPU and I put them into OpenOffice Calc. No more math errors here, its still in the format we got used to and like, and we print it out to review and make changes instead of staring at computer screens. I’m sure the spreadsheet in this post is wonderful for those… Read more »

DC Economist
DC Economist
13 years ago

Nathan,

One nice thing about Excel is that you can just change the savings fund to be say, ROTH IRA, or something similiar. In fact, that is what the savings fund is supposed to represent, post-tax savings.

Seth
Seth
13 years ago

@Tyler: Mr. Popick has clearly invested a lot of time and energy and I for one greatly appreciate it. If you don’t find it useful then fine, don’t use it.

My mother always taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say I should keep it to myself.

To Mr. Popick, who I assume must be the above DC Economist, Thank you.

Mama's Money
Mama's Money
13 years ago

I’d have to say, this seems like a “not for beginners” budget tool.

There was lots of information, but I couldn’t get my actual paystub information to align with the categories or math at all. (Granted, I have a few quirky elements, like imputed income for the value of my domestic partner’s health insurance coverage. But I also couldn’t figure out where more commonly used things like pre-tax Flexible Savings Accounts would go.)

Accidental Alpha
Accidental Alpha
13 years ago

Despite the (surprising!) negativity, I think you’ve done people a great service with these worksheets. While a lot of articles and books note that many people don’t stick with budgeting because the monthly time commitment is a pain, I think many others simply don’t know how to start. Creating a master document can seem overwhelming for beginners. You’ve solved that problem and the time and effort that went into this is much appreciated. I might become a budgeter yet…

Nathan
Nathan
13 years ago

@DC Economist I agree excel can be amazing for these things, and I already made a few changes to it myself (I am not married, so taxes needed altering for example). I didn’t mention a thanks in the previous post, I’ve made spreadsheets like this before, so I can appreciate the time put into it. I was just mentioning, because I divert funds to a high interest savings (emergency/backup fund), roth, normal checking/savings, and individual investments. I realize this is not the case for most, I was simply mentioning an extra row wouldn’t be a bad idea…after all, people might… Read more »

bob
bob
13 years ago

Have you thought about doing a monte carlo simulation for the retirement portion of the spreadsheet? Assuming a steady rate of return is simplistic and not a particularly good model for how reality will hit.

Here are a couple of links describing monte carlo simulations, the first lets you fill in some details and it rolls the dice for you.

The second is more of a description of what monte carlo simulations are all about.

http://www.pivotpointadvisors.com/retirementcalculator.asp
http://www.moneychimp.com/articles/volatility/montecarlo.htm

Daisy
Daisy
13 years ago

What’s with the negativity? This looks like a fun spreadsheet to me. Some people…

Charlie Park
Charlie Park
13 years ago

Good gravy, haters! Shut up!

Popick – thanks for your initial work on this, and for listening to input and making changes.

Allie
Allie
13 years ago

This spreadsheet looks a lot like my own budget! I’m sure my spouse would never use a spreadsheet. He doesn’t even open his mail. 🙂 I have been using a budget spreadsheet since I got my first real computer, about 10 years ago. I don’t think mine is as complicated as this… mostly I just type in my bills, when they are due, and when I can expect a paycheck. Anything I make over the usual minimum amount is mine to spend or save. I know I should be saving more than I spend 🙂 but I am working on… Read more »

Gwen
Gwen
13 years ago

I think the workbook is great. The only thing I would add is a section for child related costs, such as daycare/preschool/private school, personal needs (diapers, wipes, special products), clothing, medical/dental costs (other than insurance), extracurricular activities, etc. These items can really add up and can take a significant portion of a budget. Additionally, I would assume a section in that area for child support might be appropriate for some.

All in all, I think the worksheet is great and very thorough.

MyOwnMillions
MyOwnMillions
13 years ago

Stephen Popick,

You have provided a great tool for people to get started budgeting. There will always be people who are negative but you have done a great service to all the readers here so don’t be discouraged by some of the comments as most of us will appreciate your efforts!

DC Economist
DC Economist
13 years ago

Bob, If I could find a way to write monte carlo in excel, I would. I can do it with SAS, SPSS, and Stata. Good idea, and I will look at it. If there is a category missing, like FSAs, just insert a row in the appropriate area, and copy and use the format. Confirm the subtotal that pulls from that section. I will put an FSA/Other Pretax into the next version. That’s a good idea. Nathan, You’re right that there are other post-tax savings…Id add them to the savings section by inserting rows and then making sure the subtotals… Read more »

gina
gina
13 years ago

I like the spreadsheet. It’s confusing, but I think that is from me not understanding some budget things.

Which is why I like the spreadsheet, teaching me new stuff. 🙂

Please add the FSA section.

Rachelle
Rachelle
13 years ago

Great spreadsheet! I find it easy to read and get started. However, being in Canada, the assumptions embedded in many formulas don’t work. I would prefer being able to enter the dollar amounts of the deductions on my paystubs rather than having my deductions assumed. Thanks for all your work and generosity!

Patty
Patty
13 years ago

it’s great. i can easily get started with it. thank you very much

satom
satom
12 years ago

Thank you.
This spreadsheet is just amazing. What a great job, it helped me understand a lot about budgeting and even pushed me towards going deep into details about taxes (analyzing things I had not considered before).

Popick, you have all my respect and admiration for this excellent tool you provided to us. You did a great service to the community, and I hope that you’ll get back all the serenity that this tool will give to all of its users!

Again, most sincerely, thanks an awful lot.

Mosi
Mosi
12 years ago

I am having trouble downloading the second version of the Get Rich Slowly budget. When I click the link, I get transfered to another site w/ a bunch of letters and symbols. Is there another place where I can have access to it? Thanks.

Philip
Philip
12 years ago

If you right click the link and then choose save target as, choose your desktop, then you may need to change the extension from .htm to .xls for it to open correctly, at least that is what I did.

I hope to be able to use this, it is kind of scary to see the numbers for the whole year, I start thinking I am doing pretty good, then realize I am within a couple thousand of my total yearly and might should consider some more cutbacks.

JerichoHill
JerichoHill
12 years ago

thanks for the love guys. I’m going to make version 3 over the next few months taking all your suggestions into account

MZ
MZ
12 years ago

Too bad I can’t download it by clicking on any of the links.

Edit: the way it’s configured right now, one MUST right-click on “second version” link, choose “Save Target As” in (Internet Explorer, IE) or “Save Link As” (in Firefox). If you are using Firefox, you’re done. If Internet Explorer is your browser, then you MUST change the extension of the file you’re saving from “htm” to “xls” (no quotes). Lots of work and I haven’t even started budgeting! 🙂

Terry
Terry
10 years ago

About 5 years ago, I created my first “real” budget, due to a second marriage, one which came with debt. 2 years ago, I managed to pay off the last of our debt, and only had the mortgage remaining. as someone pointed out above, things do pop up. my initial goal of paying off the mortgage by 2011 has been pushed back to 2014, due to needing a second car, and then having to replace the first car. the final payment on those will be in 2 months, and I can go back to seriously crunching the mortgage down. I… Read more »

Marc
Marc
7 years ago

Hey I invested some time to modify the GRS 2.0 and willing to get it back in Stephen’s hands if you like: 1. New tab: Paychecks – holds yours and spouses paychecks and a summary line for after tax income 2. Budget – combined yours and spouses since I felt the division of bill paying threw off the reality of budgeting hers and mine. This way it’s one budget based on combined income from paycheck tab. 3. Mock taxes – added a 1040, Sched A, Sched D, Sched E tab that can be configured to read budget/paycheck data and approximate… Read more »

Russ
Russ
7 years ago

Be aware that Social Security deduction from gross income is not adjusted for the wage base / maximum contributions. You’ll need to fix this manually.

Marc
Marc
7 years ago

This is taken care of in the version I have.

A notes tab has some annual caps like SS cap and 401(k) cap.

Also the retirement section is 2 tabs – data and line chart.

I recalculated contribution to savings while in retirement and factored mandatory IRA distributions to start diminish IRA balances, etc.

Julie
Julie
6 years ago
Reply to  Marc

Where is a link to the most updated version of this spreadsheet? I have Version 2.0 but am interested in the changes/additions since – including the ones that you have mentioned.

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