A budget planner template can help you manage your finances in the long-term. (Credit: Getty Images)
Having a roadmap helps you regularly monitor the progress of your financial goals. You can find many ready-made budget planner templates online, from managing expenses to paying off debt.
These templates can give the extra push you need to confront financial anxiety. They're convenient and easy to use and ideal for budgeting first-timers. Here are five that you may find useful.
1. Expense tracker
This expense tracker template works well for monitoring cash flow. It groups your expenses into categories, making it easier to spot where you can trim costs and identify your fixed and variable expenses. It is also prudent to compare your income and expenses month-on-month to spot any fluctuations in your spending patterns.
How to get this template: Go to "File" on the Microsoft Excel menu. Click "New" to search for online templates. Type "budget plan" or "personal budget" in the search box.
Check if you are making an accurate spending projection by comparing it with actual costs. (Credit: Microsoft Excel)
2. "50/30/20" savings template
Defining your cash flow helps you decide on a budget planner template that focuses on your financial goal. For example, if you're aiming for savings, you can apply Elizabeth Warren's 50/30/20 method from her book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.
The items you classify as non-discretionary (50 per cent of your after-tax income) are the "must-haves". These include rent, mortgage, car payment, health insurance, utilities and debt payments.
Saving 20 per cent of your income is a good way to build an emergency fund. Aim to have six to 12 months' worth of living expenses in your emergency savings account.
The remaining 30 per cent of your budget is for discretionary spending on items such as Netflix, Spotify, Starbucks or dining out.
How to use this template: Use the "budget plan" or "personal budget" template in Microsoft Excel. List your expenses under needs, wants and savings, then calculate the allocation for each category.
This budget template makes it easy to manage your discretionary spending, especially when you need to increase your savings. (Credit: Microsoft Excel)
3. Annual income vs expense template
Tracking and recording your spending patterns generate data that you can then use to analyse your income and expenses. Summarise your spending patterns in this annual budget template, accessible on Microsoft Excel. It is an ideal budget plan template for a financial wellness check.
How to get this template: Go to "File" on the Microsoft Excel menu. Click "New" to search for online templates. Type "basic personal budget" in the search box.
This template evaluates an entire year of spending and saving. The first tab on the worksheet lets you categorise your expenses and input your total spend each month. (Credit: Microsoft Excel)
The second tab of the template provides the summary and will calculate automatically if you're short or have extra cash. (Credit: Microsoft Excel)
4. Food budget template
Estimate how much you spend on food with this food budget template. It's divided into categories, from fruits and vegetables to ready meals and drinks, as well as columns for price, quantity and where you bought food.
How to get this template: Go to "File" on the Microsoft Excel menu. Click "New" to search for online templates. Type "food budget" in the search box.
This food budget template divides your expenses by food and places and tracks your top purchases. (Credit: Microsoft Excel)
5. Debt snowball template
A popular piece of financial advice is you should first pay off your debts with the highest interest rates. However, the debt snowball method encourages you to pay off the smallest debt first, regardless of the interest rate. It assumes you have the budget to pay the minimum amount due on all your debts.
Let's say, for example, you have these four debts:
- $500 personal loan (minimum monthly payment: $50)
- $2,500 credit card (minimum monthly payment: $63)
- $7,000 car loan (minimum monthly payment: $135)
- $10,000 home loan (minimum monthly payment: $96)
Personal finance coach Dave Ramsey, who popularised the debt snowball method, suggests making minimum payments on all debts except the personal loan, the smallest debt. Use any extra money to repay the personal loan on top of the $50 minimum amount due.
Once you've cleared the smallest debt, move on to the next – which, in this example, is the credit card. Use the monthly budget you reserved for the personal loan ($50 + extra money), plus the minimum amount due on the credit card ($63), and so on. Research published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that repayment methods where you pay a small debt in full can give you a feeling of accomplishment, which motivates you to keep going.
How to get this template: You can create it manually on Google Sheet or Microsoft Excel.
If you can only afford to pay the minimum amount due on a debt, try this debt snowball tracker. (Credit: Microsoft Excel)
Whether you track your budget via an app or digital worksheet, the ideal budget planner template is the one that makes you take a more active approach to budget management. If you feel like you're doing a lot of guesswork, you can ask a financial advisor for help. Money management can be an overwhelming and emotional challenge. Discussing personal finances with someone outside your family can be easier and give you an unbiased view that will help get you in top financial shape.
Equip yourself with the financial skills to achieve the future you want. Finance expert Lachlan Campbell shares his advice on planning for life's significant moments in this episode of AIA Voices.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.
InCharge Debt Solutions Non-Profit Credit Counseling Organization. 2022. How to Create a Successful Budget. [online] [Accessed on 20 July 2022]
MoneySmart. How to do a budget. [online] [Accessed on 20 July 2022]
Ramsey Solutions. 2021. How to Get Out of Debt With the Debt Snowball Plan. [online] [Accessed on 20 July 2022]
Journal of Neuroscience Psychology and Economics. 2012. Measuring Financial Anxiety. [online] [Accessed on 20 July 2022]
Journal of Consumer Research. 2016. Repayment Concentration and Consumer Motivation to Get Out of Debt. [online] [Accessed on 20 July 2022]