This book is designed to introduce the easiest way for anyone to draft a Budget-in-Excel (hereafter B.I.E), and get out of debt. The way I designed it can help anyone who has a job, from the lowest paying Walmart or McDonald’s job, to someone who is drawing salary in a career. A “job” is different from a “career.” A job is what someone gets to simply sustain a living, to pay living expenses, and attempt to pay down debt, before they are able to be in a financially stable position to get the dream job they wish to ultimately pursue. A career however, is the dream job that people usually study for – study very, very hard for.
I began my journey to debt freedom initially with trying to pay off hospital bills, eliminate at least two maxed out credit card debts, paying off a car loan that just would not go away, cover living expenses, and look forward to paying off 100,000 dollars of student loan debts, all with a meager income of 30,000 dollars per year. Granted, being on the income-based-repayment (I.B.R.) program is tremendously beneficial to helping get out of student loan debt (as well as being tax deductible as a credit). I plan on showing you exactly what you need to do to get started on a very simple program to help you get out of debt. Like Dave Ramsey, I suggest that you have to be determined to get out of debt in order to take that initial step to actually getting out of debt. A deep, inner anger must arise from your gut – you have to get mad, really mad. If you are serious about eliminating debt, and get out of the continuous and perpetual enslavement that society puts on you, then you have to recognize that it is YOU who put you in that position. Yes, look in the mirror before you blame others for YOUR debt problems.
I learned everything I know about how to get out of debt from Dave Ramsey and his “Total Money Makeover” book. I listened intently to his programs before it finally dawned on me that the only thing I have to do was get mad and tell myself that “I am better than this… I am smarter than I am acting, and I should not be in this position!” So when 2010 turned to 2011 on the 1st of January, my New Year’s resolution was to get out of debt. I immediately outlined a B.I.E., by placing all of my expenses in rows, while placing the pay periods in each month in the columns. I figured that this newer approach would be much better than the traditional paper method people still utilize, because this method is on the computer! It enables you to foresee your own budget several years in advance, and see what kinds of impact your own spending behaviors have (as in the butterfly effect) on your budget in the foreseeable future.
Here’s the first step, if you do not have a computer, get one. If you do not have Microsoft Excel, get it. These are investments. First, save up 1,000 dollars as fast as possible. This is your emergency fund. This is what Dave Ramsey tells you in his book to do. Then, build your Excel file, like the example in figure 1.
(Figure 1) Line all of your expenses up in rows and your pay periods in the columns.
First, open a new Excel file. Rename the worksheet that you are in to something like “October.” The way Excel works is based on numbered (rows) and lettered (columns). If I wanted to discuss a particular cell, like C7, I would be talking about the 40.00dollars I placed in the cell to budget for gasoline for that particular pay period. That may seem cheap, only 40 bucks for two weeks to get to work, and gallivant around town, but it helps to car-pool with someone to go to work. This divides the gasoline use up amongst two people, and prolongs the expenditure by an extra week – for both parties. So, I highly recommend car-pooling to work. This is also better for the environment in the long run. Then, the function inside cell B20 is:
This simply subtracts all of your expenses versus your initial emergency savings amount of 1,000 dollars. Do this also for the other tow columns in C20 and D20, but they will be respectively:
I also recommend getting an American Express card. This allows you to consolidate all of your major expenses in the month into one single payment method that is able to be paid off in 15 days. This will also allow you to choose a better bank, or to shop around if you feel you are too often finding yourself to be generally unhappy with your particular bank. You hold leverage over which bank gets your business, always remember that!
Place all of your expenses into the cells like I show in figure 1. Then, there are two other worksheets at the bottom of your Excel spreadsheet that are unnamed. Cut and paste everything from the first worksheet (figure 1) into the next unnamed worksheet (figure 2), and name this worksheet November.
(Figure 2) Notice this one is different than figure 1. That’s because cell B19 has a specific function in it.
Now, cell B19 is not the same as the 1,000 dollars as in the October worksheet. That’s because this cell has a function in it. The function should be:
If you place this in cell B19, it will automatically draw from the ‘total pay period savings’ cell from the October worksheet and calculate all of your expenses out for you. Repeat this process for the next unnamed worksheet, and rename it December. Reminder – cut and paste either of the worksheets into the next new December one, but simply change the function
You can repeat this process again for a January worksheet. You have to however, go to the menu tabs and choose “Insert” – then “worksheet” from the drop down menu. It should appear as this (figure 3).
(Figure 3) This is the January budget drawing from the savings from the December worksheet.
If you repeat this process over and over, you can literally project your B.I.E. out several years in advance. Just rename your next years’ worksheets with the year in them. Remember – you will have to place the exact worksheet name in the function for cell B19. If you re paying attention, the cell D20 is the most important one. It is gradually getting bigger, and bigger, as each month passes. This is good. This means that your savings are growing, and you will be able to eventually pay a little more and a little more, on each of your debts.
The key to success in eliminating debt, is to line all of your debts up from smallest to largest. When you initially save up 1,000 dollars emergency fund, this is your ticket to eliminating debt. If you can do this, then you are on the fast track to financial victory. Once you get your snow-ball rolling, then you will begin your obsessive compulsive disorder action on the fast-track to eliminating your debt entirely!
My program I built in Excel is free. Enjoy it, learn it, love it. And most of all – pass it along. I believe that the financial problems America and Americans face, is based solely on the inability to visualize your debt. Once you can visualize it, map it out, see it and how it reacts to your behavior, then you are much better equipped to manage your debt. Good luck, and contact me for any further questions.
download the free Excel program here:
Note: All of the current budget amounts in the Excel file are simply guidelines. I budget for 50 dollars every pay period (two weeks) for food. This may not apply to you. Just because there is 50 in that particular cell, does not mean you have to live by 50 dollars every two weeks. YOU can change it. Change the amount – that’s what I built this Excel spread sheet for. It is designed to change as your habits and behaviors change. However, you should be conscious of what the overall changes are doing to your bank accounts. If you go in the red, and are stretched beyond your means, then there is definately a problem. You must either suffer with what you have and deal with it, or you must learn to cut costs elsewhere.
The reason you are in financial difficulties is not because of Wallstreet, it is because of YOU and your spending behavior patterns. If you cannot articulate to anyone why you are in debt, then you are not in a good position to blame anyone else but yourself. You must first recognize that your debt has been incurred by YOU and no one else. Once you do this, then you can begin to move yourself under your own power – out of debt.