My wife and I recently completed Dave Ramsey’s 13 week Financial Peace University course.
In our 14 years of marriage, this was the first time that we have successfully created a budget and stuck to it. I think the reasons for all the past failures stem from the fact that we would try to create 1 budget that we would try to live on every single month. That worked fine until life smacked us around, throwing the budget completely out of whack.
The difference with Dave’s plan is that we create a new budget every single month. We spend our paychecks on paper BEFORE we actually get them. Dave’s budget is what he calls a ZERO based budget, which means at the top of the budget form you put your income and then you start Allocating money to your categories until you have allocated every dollar, and are left with ZERO at the bottom of the form.
I would highly recommend to anyone that wanted to get on a budget to use this method, as it is the only one that has ever worked for us.
You can download Dave’s Paper based budget form here… <GET DAVE’S BUDGET FORM>
The only problem I have had with using the paper form is that it can take some time doing the “Corrections” all the way down the form when I found out I had run out of money before I ran out of things to pay. In this scenario you have to make some adjustments to amounts higher up in the form and that would require that you redo all of the calculations. This can be time consuming.
So being the nerd that I am (Dave’s word, there are nerds and free spirits, take the class and you will understand) I have created an Excel Spreadsheet that duplicates Dave’s form exactly (I did not want to change anything) but allows me to make changes to my allocations quickly.
Please, Please, Please Use Dave’s paper based form for at least one month (two pay periods) before using my spreadsheet. I say this because I am a deep believer in what Dave says about finances being 80% behavior and 20% knowledge. You have to change your behavior about money, and if you think that just by using some fancy spreadsheet you will FIX your money problems you will have missed boat. In Fact please take Dave’s FPU class before using this spreadsheet and you will get even more benefit from it.
I have password protected the worksheet to prevent me from making any accidental changes. If you would like to change the worksheet you will first need to unprotect it. The password is “pass”
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