When I started out (as a student) with my very first budget, I created it in the simplest way possible, and it was the only way I knew how at the time. I didn’t have a computer, so I took out a small notebook and worked out how much money I had (or didn’t). Underneath that, I wrote down a list of all the things I needed to spend money on during the month. As I spent money, I wrote it down in the book and then deducted the spend from the corresponding category.
If you are a total budgeting beginner like I was then, I recommend that you keep it very simple indeed to start with. It is totally fine to start with just a pen and paper. Or, if you are feeling a little more tech-savvy, a simple Google Sheet will be perfectly fine.
Whichever method you choose for your budget the best budget planners for beginners are always those that get used. However simple your budget system might be, if you use it, it is infinitely better than an all singing/dancing one that does 101 calculations you will never use.
With that in mind, I have for you five simple and, in my view, the best budget planners for beginners to get you started on your budgeting journey today!
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Best budget planners for beginners
#1 The DIY budget planner
Raisin.co.uk has a very nice example of a planner you can make yourself either with pen and paper or a spreadsheet. Here’s an excerpt, check out the full template you can copy here.
The great thing about this one is it gives you a starting point, but you can easily adapt it to your own needs, and of course, it is totally free!
#2 Printable budget planner
If you already have a diary in a binder or love using a pen and paper as I do then you will love this printable finance planner. I think it looks gorgeous and of course, you can use it over and over again, just reprint when you are ready to start over.
This one isn’t free but it is much cheaper than buying a ready-printed one at the newsagents, plus you can edit it to suit your needs.
#3 Budget planner book by Clever Fox
If you don’t want to print anything out I quite understand (printer ink is so expensive!). This budget planner book from Clever Fox is just gorgeous. It lasts for one year, and you can begin at any point in the year. You will find space to plan your budget for the month, track your expenses and also a review page, so you can track how well you did at the end of each month. It comes in a multitude of colours too and even has stickers to liven things up, plus space to store your receipts.
#4 Excel Template
If you have Microsoft Excel, there are several templates available for different kinds of budgets, i.e. personal, college expenses and food budget.
To use premade templates, open up Excel and click on More templates to bring up the full list of available templates. Type in budget and you should see a list of different budget templates to choose from.
If you prefer to use Google Sheets, check out this article which recommends several free budgeting templates.
#5 The Money Charity Budget Builder
If you like to use an app to track your budget, check out this free one from the Money Charity. It has a desktop and a mobile app too so you can always keep it handy. I think the screens are very simple and well laid out, perfect for beginner budgeteers.
Wrapping up the best budget planners for beginners
If you are a total non-tech I recommend you go for a DIY version first, or if you prefer a template, buy a printable or a dedicated budgeting notebook. If you have a computer and aren’t afraid to use it, the Excel or Google templates would suit you well.
As time goes on, and you start to feel more confident, you may well find (as I did eventually) that you need something more. When that time comes I thoroughly recommend the app I currently use now – You Need A Budget. It’s excellent at getting you laser focussed on financial goals and ‘giving every dollar a job’. I can guarantee that when you start using it you will be asking your boss for a raise!