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How to Craft a Simple Weekly Spending Template

Ready to create a simple budget template and take control of your money? In this article we’ll take you step-by-step through the process of making a budget plan that meets your needs while keeping your financial goals in sight. For the hands-on users, you’ll find a link to a free printable budget planner, or a quick-start budget template for anyone who wants the heavy lifting already done for them.

Do I Really Need a Budget?

You might be wondering if you actually need a budget—and the very word gives you a headache. Have you tried a budget spreadsheet in Excel or Google sheets thinking it was going to make your monthly budget simple? Instead, it got more complicated?

Here at YNAB (yeah, we’re one of the cult-favorite budgeting apps!), we don’t see weekly or monthly budgets like you might think. It’s not about restricting spending, but more about lining up your spending with what you prioritize. Around here, we think budgets are for people who LIKE to spend money.

We’ve got a simple four-rule method for money management that starts with giving every dollar a job. That’s actually our first rule of the YNAB Method!

And with this attitude and framework, there’s no shame or guilt. On the flipside, there are plenty of benefits! Some perks of having a weekly or monthly budget include:

  • Making informed financial decisions
  • Making faster progress on debt payoff
  • Getting a handle on emotional spending
  • Making financial progress and getting closer to big goals
  • Having your hard-earned money work more effectively

What a Successful Weekly Budget Template Includes

Maybe you’ve tried to make a family budget before, but it broke after just three days. See, a budget needs to be flexible—rigid budgets break. How often have holiday presents or a yearly subscription renewal thrown your plan into a tizzy because they happened all at once?

We have a solution to turn those surprise expenses into peaceful spending: YNAB’s Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses. Take a yearly expense like holiday gifts, and break them into smaller, more manageable chunks. In a weekly budget plan, it might be taking your monthly bills, health insurance, a life insurance premium, or your rent/mortgage payment and breaking that down further into its weekly or monthly expense.

You’ll squirrel away the money in smaller parts instead of all at once—and in YNAB, it’s easy to track in the virtual envelopes of your budget categories.

The second thing a weekly budget template includes is flexibility. We mentioned it once already, but in YNAB’s Rule Three, you’ll learn to roll with the punches. Your budget isn’t broken if you spend more than you planned on takeout. You haven’t failed. In fact, it just means you’re human. YNAB’s Rule Three means you simply accept (and embrace!) the fact that your budget will change.

In YNAB, to handle overspending on something like eating out, you can move money from one category to another (say, from home improvement to eating out!). The software contains this feature built right in. It would take time and skill to set up this functionality in excel or Google sheets. With that simple action, your budget can bend instead of break. Ah, sweet relief.

Let’s Make Your Weekly Budget Template

When it comes to actually making your budget template, we want it to be a few things: it should look good, be easy-to-use, and actually work. If you use credit cards in your day-to-day life, your budget should be able to handle credit cards. If you manage money with a partner, you should be able to see updates in real time. We’ll provide pro tips on organizing your budget template and choosing the right budget plan. Ready to set up your monthly or weekly budget?

If you’re a pen and pencil type of person, we’ve got a fantastic budget planner printable that you can use to set your plan. Use it right in your browser as an editable PDF, or print it out as a budget worksheet printable to fill out by hand. Take a relaxing evening to reflect, plan, and dream big on your finances. It might just be the most lucrative thing you do all year.

For anyone who wants to get a jumpstart and make a budget in five minutes or less, we’ve hand-picked a YNAB household budget template just for you. That’s right, we’ve taken the hours you might have spent on a google sheets budget template and turned it into something dynamic with all the formulas and calculations already done for you! The YNAB budgeting app sets this up as a monthly budget template, but organized around weekly or biweekly paychecks so you have a firmer look at a weekly budget tracker based on money coming in and out.

Bonus Tips for Budgeting Success

Let’s amp up your personal budget journey with some extra tips and tricks along the way. We have a few truisms around here because budgeting is just as much a new habit to build, with all its behavior changes and mindset shifts, just like if you were going to try to change the way you eat or build a new exercise routine. So, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • There is no such thing as a normal month. Some months will be expensive, some months will have emergency repairs, or big purchases, or bonuses, or tax refunds. Follow YNAB’s Rule Two: embrace your true expenses to help get off that roller coaster and smooth out the surprises.
  • You might try a few times before it clicks. Some people won’t get to a budget that sticks until 4, 5, or 11 tries. That’s ok, and it’s perfectly normal. Just try, try, and try again. We’ve got a host of resources for different types of learners, so maybe reading doesn’t work, but a workshop does! Or a video makes things click!
  • Add a “cushion” category to your budget to give margin to weekly expenses.
  • Your budget is not just an expense tracker. Using an excel spreadsheet to track money after it leaves isn’t a proactive way to handle your monthly income. Use a budget to tell your money what you want it to do BEFORE you spend it.
  • If you budget with a partner, check in on a weekly basis. Check out more resources for partners!

Go forth, you’re now equipped to make the ultimate weekly budget template. Check in often, don’t be afraid to change your plan, and regularly review and adjust your budget. Before you know it, you’ll have a growing bank account, control of your personal finances, and heck—you might even start sleeping better at night.

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How to Craft a Simple Weekly Spending Template