Google Sheets Monthly Budget Template Tutorial

How to Use the Google Sheets Budget Template (Free Spreadsheet!)

If you’re looking for a quick and easy budgeting tool, the Google Sheets budget template is a great option to track your daily expenses.

For the past few years, I’ve used this free budgeting tool to keep my spending under control.

Google Sheets Budget Template: Step-by-Step Guide

This article and the video below will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a budget with Google Sheets, including my best tips to customize the template.

Quick Links:

  1. Locate and open the Google Sheets monthly budget template
  2. Start with a clean slate
  3. Customize a sample monthly budget
  4. Make a copy of the sample budget and plan your spending
  5. Track your expenses with the Google Sheets app

1. Locate and open the Google Sheets monthly budget template

The first step is to find the Google Sheets budget template. When you open Google Sheets from a computer, look for the “Monthly Budget” spreadsheet located near the top of the screen.

If you don’t see a thumbnail for it, click on “Template Gallery” and find it under “Personal.”

2. Start with a clean slate

To start with a clean slate, you need to give the budget template a new name. That’s where we begin step two.

In the upper-left corner, change the name of the spreadsheet from “Monthly budget” to “SAMPLE BUDGET TO COPY EVERY MONTH.” You’ll understand why that’s important later on in this article.

Change name of budget to Sample Budget in Google Sheets

Next, you want to delete sample amounts on the Summary and Transactions spreadsheets. Warning: If you don’t follow the instructions below, it may break the formulas in the spreadsheet.

Transactions spreadsheet

Let’s begin with the Transactions spreadsheet. You can access it by clicking on the Transactions tab at the bottom of the screen.

To delete the sample expenses for Rent and Paycheck, click on the number 5 to select that entire row. Then, click on Delete values from the Edit dropdown menu.

Google Sheets Monthly Budget - Delete Sample Transactions

Next, scroll down to the bottom of the Transactions spreadsheet. You’ll see that it ends with row 33. That will be a problem if you have more than 33 transactions in a month, so click “Add 1000 more rows at bottom” to avoid any issues.

Summary spreadsheet

Once you’ve made those changes, flip back to the Summary spreadsheet. To start with a clean slate, adjust the starting balance in cell L8 from $1,000 to $0.

Then, zero out the sample Home (cell D31) and Paycheck (cell J29) amounts shown in the shaded Planned column.

Google Sheets Monthly Budget Summary Tab Changes

The Summary spreadsheet ends with row 44. If you think that you may need additional expense categories, click “Add 1000 more rows at bottom” just like you did on the Transactions spreadsheet. You’ll get a pop-up that warns about editing the spreadsheet, but go ahead and click OK.

3. Customize a sample monthly budget

The third step is to customize your sample monthly budget. Before you adjust the expense categories on the Summary spreadsheet, I recommend that you add a third spreadsheet for Fixed Expenses.

The purpose of this additional spreadsheet is to separate your fixed and variable expenses. Let me explain how I do it.

In the lower-left corner, click to plus sign for “Add Sheet” and change the tab name to Fixed Expenses. Then, list your fixed expenses and how much you spend on them every month.

Fixed expenses include things like your rent/mortgage, cell phone bill, TV bill, utilities and insurance payments. You may also want to include irregular expenses in this worksheet. (Learn more here)

Total the fixed expenses and flip back over to the Summary spreadsheet.

Fixed Expenses Worksheet in Google Sheets - Michael Saves Method

Next, change the first line on the expenses column from Food to Fixed Expenses and enter the total from the other spreadsheet.

Now, all of those fixed expenses take up only one line on the Summary spreadsheet and you can focus on the variable or flexible spending categories that have a greater impact on your day-to-day budget.

Monthly budget template with Google Sheets - Fixed expenses line on the Summary tab

You can safely change the shaded expense and income categories on the Summary spreadsheet through line 41, but don’t fill in the Planned column for your expense categories (except Fixed Expenses) just yet. That’s later.

If you need help determining your budget categories, review your recent credit card and bank statements.

How to add more custom categories in Google Sheets

If you don’t need additional rows of expenses beyond line 41, you can skip ahead to the next step at this point. But if you do want to add extra rows or think you may need to in the future, there’s a specific way to do it to avoid messing up the formulas.

Let me explain what you need to do.

First, determine the number of expense categories that you want to add. It doesn’t hurt to have extra blank rows, so I suggest that you add about 5 or 10 rows even if you won’t use them all. Next, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the last row of the expense column (Custom category 3, line 41)
  2. Highlight the cells you want to duplicate
  3. Drag down using the blue handle
  4. Click OK when prompted with a pop-up warning
  5. Rename the new categories anything you want

Monthly Budget Template: How to Add Custom Categories

After that, jot down the last row that you created. In the sample above, it’s row 50. Flip over to the Transactions spreadsheet to continue.

From this spreadsheet, navigate to the category drop-down. You may notice that not all of the new budget categories are reflected. Here’s how to fix that:

  1. Highlight the first cell under Category on the Expenses side (Row 5, Column E).
  2. From the Data menu, select Data validation.
  3. In the Cell Range field, change Transactions!E5 to Transactions!E5:E1000.
  4. In the Criteria Summary field, change the last two numbers of the Summary!B27:C44 formula to match the number of your last row from the Summary spreadsheet. (That would be 50 from the example.)
  5. Click save and check to see if all categories now appear in the drop-down.

Data Validation with Google Sheets Budget Template

4. Make a copy of the sample budget and plan your spending

Now that you’ve customized the sample monthly budget, the fourth step is to make a copy of it to save the work that you’ve done so far and actually start budgeting for the upcoming month.

Go to the File menu, select Make a Copy and rename the budget for the upcoming month. For example, January 2021 Budget. I go back to the sample budget every single month to make a new copy.

Monthly Budget Template Copy the Budget

All of your categories and the Fixed Expenses spreadsheet should be copied over. From here, plan your spending in all of your budget categories and make sure that the total amount doesn’t exceed your monthly income.

If you need to make tweaks to your categories or the Fixed Expenses spreadsheet in the future, make those changes to the sample budget before you make a copy. This will save you time.

5. Track your expenses with the Google Sheets app

Once I set up my budget on a laptop at the start of the month, I do the rest of my budgeting on the go with the Google Sheets mobile app. That’s the fifth and final step of this process.

From the free app (available for Apple and Android devices), I can get an overall snapshot of my spending from the Summary spreadsheet and enter transactions from the Transactions spreadsheet.

Here’s an example: Before I go to the grocery store, I open the Google Sheets app and look at the Summary tab to see how much money I have left to spend. After completing my purchase, I immediately record the transaction before I leave the store. All I do is flip over to the Transactions tab and enter the date, amount, description and category.

Sample Transaction Google Sheets Budget Template

Checking in with my budget before every purchase has saved me a lot of money. If I realize that I don’t have enough budgeted for something I want to buy, I either skip the purchase or move money from another budget category to cover it.

Let’s say that I have $200 budgeted for groceries and $200 for entertainment. If I’m at risk of going over my budget for groceries, I could pull $50 from the entertainment category. I would then go to the Summary tab and adjust the planned spending to reflect the new budget: $250 for groceries and $150 for entertainment. I’m not changing the overall total planned spending for the month, just the categories.

Another great thing about the Google Sheets budget template is that you can share it. If you maintain a budget with a partner, you can both make changes to the budget from a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Final Thought

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting, but the Google Sheets budget template is a simple and powerful tool to take control of your money — and it’s 100% free.

I was thinking about using this space to review the pros and cons of the Google Sheets budget template, but I can’t think of any major cons. Here are the reasons why I really like it:

  • Google Sheets is free
  • Monthly Budget template can be customized
  • Track expenses on the go with the app
  • Share your spreadsheet with a partner
  • No advertisements or bank information to enter

Do you use Google Sheets to manage your budget? Leave a comment below and let me know how it works for you!


Related MichaelSaves.com Budgeting Content:

72 thoughts on “How to Use the Google Sheets Budget Template (Free Spreadsheet!)”

  1. Is there a way to change the color in this template? Not super important but… I like to color code by month lol.

    1. Hey idk if you need this info anymore but if you select the bar on the graph or in a certain colored area, at the top you’ll see a sparkline code next to the fx just above the column names (a, b, c, etc). All the way at the end of this sparkline is a “firstcolor” code.

      For example, I changed my “firstcolor” code to “#ead1dc” so the script looks like this: “firstcolor”,”#ead1dc” and this changed the color of my End Balance bar from orange to a light pink. You can go in to all of the colored areas and adjust using this! I would advise using color hex or some other color coding website to find the colors that you want! I hope this helped. I just figured it out lmao.

    1. I mention this in the article because I had the same problem at first!

      To add more custom categories to the Summary spreadsheet:

      Go to the last row of the expense column (Custom category 3)
      Highlight the cells you want to duplicate
      Drag down using the blue handle
      Rename the new categories anything you want

      If you follow these steps, the new custom categories will show up on the transaction page!

  2. My custom categories past line 44 do not show up for some reason on the transaction page. Thanks for any insight.

    1. I have added a few custom categories without a problem, but I now see what you’re running into past line 44. I wish I knew the answer. Let me try to do some research.

      Update: I found this response on another forum. Can you try?

      Right click on the transactions column that uses the drop-down
      Choose Data Validation
      Change the range to include the new rows you added

  3. Jean Pierre Michotte

    I added in the list of categories about 15 more for all the bank account.
    But de drop down menu shows only 3 more than the original setup.
    How can I increase de number of lines in these menu?

    Johnold

    1. I am not sure. I have only added a few categories and have not had a problem. One reason I use that fixed expensive page (one line on the category page) is to reduce the number of categories I have. Sorry I don’t have a good answer for you!

      Update: I found this on another forum. Let me know if it works for you!

      Right click on the transactions column that uses the drop-down
      Choose Data Validation
      Change the range to include the new rows you added

  4. This worked for me! I did have to add some cell values to the formula on the first sheet for some of the rows – I think because I had re-ordered them and then added more.

  5. Are you able to copy the blank template to another sheet or do you need to start a whole new workbook or file for the next month?

  6. Michael, thank you for this tutorial. Here’s my problem: I’ve entered expenses, in this case, home on the transaction page, but those expenses don’t appear in the summary (31 – D,E,F)

    Thank you!

  7. I’m currently having an issue where my transactions sheet doesn’t equal my “actual expenses” number…I’m about $15 off. I thought it was because the actual expensive side was rounding up, but I fixed it to where it has decimals but it’s still off??? This probably doesn’t make sense but I’ve been at this for two hours and my mind is melting

    1. I think I understand, but it has never happened to me. Question for ya: On the Summary tab, is there any chance that you manually entered a value into the “Actual” column? I wonder if that could override the true expenses that you’re using the Transactions tab to track. If it’s taking you two hours, it might be more efficient to start a new sample budget template. Please watch the “How to make custom categories” video in my article if you haven’t. That may save you from another headache. Good luck — and trust me it’s worth it once you get the hang of it. I love budgeting with Google Sheets.

  8. Yes please, I opened a new sheet today and there are amounts and a percentage already on the sheet and there are formulas on those cells which I don’t want to overwrite , what to do now?

  9. Your info saved my budget!!! Thanks for the help. Is there a way to make the google sheets monthly budget accept and process decimal points. It bugs me that I cannot track to the penny. Or please explain why it does not do it. Thanks again.

    1. Yes it’s quite simple. Basically, from the Summary tab you’re going to want to highlight the entire page, then Format > Number. To highlight the entire sheet, click the box above 1 and to the left of A.

      Here are instructions from Google’s FAQ page to help you format or change the format of numbers, dates or currencies in a spreadsheet:

      On your computer, open a spreadsheet in Google Sheets.
      Select the range of cells you’d like to format or modify.
      Click Format and then Number.
      Select the format to apply to the range of cells.

      Good luck and thank you for reading my blog!

  10. Hello!

    This is so exciting! Thank you so much for all of the information.

    I’m curious as to what you do for future months. Do you make new sheets entirely for each month or do you just add new tabs/sheets at the bottom?

    I’ve tried copying and pasting my template into a new sheet to save but all of the formatting changed and didn’t save the formulas.

    Just curious as to my next step in February so I don’t have to start from scratch!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Nicole. I make a SAMPLE MONTHLY BUDGET that includes my categories but no dollar amounts. Then I go to FILE > MAKE A COPY every month and rename it for the month. So I make a new sheet every month. Google has an Annual Budget Tracker that you can use to just input the results of your month if you want to see changes from month-to-month. I personally use apps like Mint and Personal Capital for this — Google is just for expense tracking for me. I hope I answered your question!

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  12. Hey, great post, thanks for the info.

    Currently switching to Google’s free monthly budget spreadsheet in replacement of Quickbooks, because Quickbooks is not compatible with my bank or credit card, and every transaction has to get manually added, so may as well use google sheets for free!

    Quick question:

    Any idea on how to set the default currency to dollars and not pounds?
    I’ve manually selected every line and changed it under FORMAT/EDIT…etc, so I have a temporary fix.
    However, if I need to add a new line, it goes back to pounds even though everything was manually changed to dollars.
    It’s kinda annoying lol!

    Anyhow, your help is greatly appreciated!
    Keep up the great work 🙂

  13. Please tell me how to update a new month. When I update next month salary in the savings category it just increase the last month savings amount in the summary

  14. Hello Michael
    I really appreciate your tips and instructions

    I have a question
    I copied my April budge to be my May budget
    And deleted Aprils information

    In the category section I’ve updated my cell with the data validation in the May budget and saved it but my expense category does not update.
    When I go back to look at the cell category it is correct and updated

    Any suggestions
    Thanks
    Kim

    1. Hello! This is why I use a SAMPLE MONTHLY BUDGET template instead of copying months and deleting information.The sample should have the categories but no dollar amounts. Hope this helps!

  15. I’ve updated my Google Sheets Budget Template tutorial with steps that are easier to follow and solutions to some common issues with the formulas. Please see my updated guide and the step-by-step video.

  16. This was seriously awesome and so helpful! I’m excited to begin the new month using this budgeting guide. 10/10 guide !

  17. I was super hopeful this would separate month-to-month expenses. But it lumps all expenses and all income into one “month” even if you put in multiple months of data.

    Any simple spreadsheet budgets that will allow month-to-month tracking?

    I don’t need GnuCash. Just a simple spreadsheet tracker…..

    1. Well, what I do is use Mint and Personal Capital for that. But Google Sheets has another solution. You can use the monthly template every month, then add the totals to the Annual budget tracker template. It’s a good way to see how you’re doing with certain categories from month-to-month. I hope this helps you!

  18. I feel that is one of the such a lot important info for me.
    And i am happy studying your article. But want to remark on few general issues, The site style is ideal,
    the articles is in point of fact nice : D. Excellent task, cheers

  19. how do i get my fixed expense total to appear in the actual collumn of my expense summary? Without this, it appears there’s left over unspent budgeted min

    1. Good question. When I bring over the fixed expense total to the planned column, I also fill it in the actual column. I think you get a warning when you do this, but it’s OK. It won’t break anything. So for me D28 is the shaded area. I fill that in, then put the same number in E28.

  20. Is there a way to have savings on there as well? I know it’s in one of the categories but if I put say £500 into my savings, I’ll add this to the expenses and it’s a negative, is there a way to get this so it goes through expenses but on to the income savings column? Or is it best to do a separate spreadsheet for savings?

    1. Sometimes I just add a category for Savings Goals and make a budget for it. I hope this makes sense. I use this spreadsheet for expense tracking mostly. I have Mint and Personal Capital to keep tabs on my savings, checking and investment balances.

  21. Thanks for the tutorial it was very helpful. however when I enter an exact total in a transaction it is rounding the total in the summary to the nearest dollar. I cannot figure out how to undo this. I would really like the totals to transfer from the transaction list to the summary with the exact number that I entered so I can keep an exact record of what I’m spending. Do you know how to make that happen? Thanks in advance

  22. WOW!!!!..I never saq so many people complaining when you are offering a FREE template and FREE help…I was using Mint for years, but my bank/credit union will mot allow outside services to access my bank account…. I will definitely try your spreadsheet…Gow difficult is it to add data on a smartphone while spending???

    1. I use it on my smartphone literally every day. The best thing for me is tracking expenses. I open Google Sheets on my phone and record transactions. I also can adjust the summary tab where the spending limits are — all from my phone. However, I do like to set up the budget from a computer every month. It’s faster and gets me into “serious mode” about my finances.

  23. I know you do not use the yearly google template. BUT…. could you do a demo of how it works? Does info automatically transfer from monthly to yearly for example? If so, what is the set up? I realize this is not your solution, but it would be nice to know how these two templates can work together for those who would like to investigate this as a solution.

  24. Hello! Thank you for all this help! I really want this to work but when I try to do the “data validation” step to add more categories, something is wrong and it won’t let me save with those values entered in.

    I can’t post a picture but these are the values I have: Transactions!E5:E1000 Summary!B27:C55

    Do you have any idea what I could be doing wrong? Thank you!!

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  26. Michael,
    We have a son on the autistic spectrum. He is working on “Finances – Make a spreadsheet of where your money actually goes” as one of his proficiency goals for independent living and self sufficency. Your tutorial and accompanying video are the best of the dozens that I’ve looked at. He is working on this today. Thank you for providing him with a tool that can help him to succeed. We appreciate your work, thorough explanations, and attention to detail.
    Thank you!

  27. Hi Michael – thank you for this really generous resource. I have a question that I haven’t seen asked elsewhere in the comments. How do you account for irregular expenses that occur maybe a few times a year, or once a year but they require forethought. One example of this would be my real estate and school taxes; another would be the budgeting I set aside for auto maintenance. Particularly for the latter, I may not spend this every month, but I need to set aside money every month. A third example would be the cost of a vacation, amortized across the year. Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated — either how you think about these sorts of line items in general, and/or how you incorporate them into your monthly sheets, if you do. Thank you again.

  28. Hi! I’ve started using the monthly budgeting templates and am loving it. I’m wondering if there’s a way to add a document for annual spending too. Let me know! And thank you!

    1. Great! If you’re talking about budgeting for irregular expenses (like annual), I have an article here: https://michaelsaves.com/save-money/google-sheets-budget-irregular-expenses/. But if you’re talking about tracking changes from month to month over the course of a year, I use Mint and Personal Capital for that. However, I’ve also just started using the Google Sheets Annual Budget Tracker and plan a video on it soon. You can find that from the Google Sheets template gallery. Good luck!

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