For my first true financial post on the blog, I am posting a basic budget spreadsheet. The excel spreadsheet is nothing fancy and leaves a little to be desired, but the basics are there and can help you get a quick handle on what you are earning, what you are spending, and what you have left over. The information entered in the spreadsheet at the moment is for a single E-5 stationed in Washington D.C., though everything in the spreadsheet is unlocked so feel free to play around with it and change the values for your needs. In the future I hope to produce a more advanced spreadsheet that requires a little less knowledge of excel and is a little more plug-in-play, but for now I think this is helpful. It has served me well the past few years and has allowed me to quickly gauge my monthly financial situation. In addition, I really like that it resembles our LES statements.
This budget spreadsheet is also very basic for the very reason that budgeting should be basic. I despise other personal finance gurus who attempt to tell you that you need to budget down to the dollar for a financially sound life. This is simply untrue! Budgeting should be easy, because if it is not, you will not follow your budget. The first rule in my budgeting process is pay yourself first. This is a principle you may have heard before and it is because it is a tried and true way to make sure you are saving a requisite amount for retirement. You can pay yourself first by many means: set up a TSP deposit, an allotment through MyPay, an automatic transfer from your checking to your investment account, or any other means of which you can think. The next rule is to pay your bills on time and to make this easy make sure you use autopay, bill pay apps, or any means that makes paying your bills automatic. The third rule is whatever is leftover is for YOU, so go have that morning coffee, put that lift kit on your truck, or go out and get that pedicure…basically TREAT YOURSELF!