Budgeting for a Family

How Google Sheets Helps Us Budget with Less Stress!

One of the questions my wife and I get asked a lot is, “How do you budget with having such a large family and constantly changing income?”  It has taken a great deal of learning how to control my craft spending what is the best strategy that we can use with fidelity.  Since implementing this budget system and limiting my trips to Starbucks, we have managed to stay on budget, stop worrying about overdraft fees, and even save some money!  


In the past, we tried the envelope system…that might work for some but definity was not for us.  We tried using one account for bills and one for spending….ummm did I transfer the money this week….crap but the yarn was on-sale.  We also tried apps like Mint, but instead of helping me not overspend in certain categories it just made me have panic attacks any time I looked at it because I always worried about money…shopping is not fun when it gives you a panic attack.  So, my first piece of advice is to start somewhere. Try our system and if it doesn’t work for you, try something else until you find something that brings you joy (and let’s you happily splurge on yarn or whatever brings you joy). Second, I learned that it doesn’t matter how much disposable income you have, it is helpful to have a budget.  This will allow you planfully spend or invest your money. It took a long time for me to learn not to spend money just because I could.

Here’s how to get started with our system…

Step 1:  Download your handy dandy spreadsheet here.

Make a copy and add it to your Google Drive. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wabn30Q9i7hgzPrh1xP1qSVbbbF8mDA0Hh2xItoTy7k/edit?usp=sharing


Step 2:  Print (or save trees and look online) at your bank statement for the month.  

Step 3:  Analyze when your bills are due along with when you get paid.  For example, we get paid on the 15th and 30th of the month. We decided to have our budge run from the 30th to the 29th.  (The 30th was like getting paid on the first)

Step 3:  Begin adding income and expenses to the spreadsheet.  

I have provided a sample to see how the spreadsheet looks with income and expenses.  I left a lot of blank rows for you till arrange your budget as needed. It’s easy to add additional rows if needed.  I put that in the tips below.

Step 4:  Update your spreadsheet and compare to your bank balance regularly (we do this every time we get paid)  You will see a column with a *. I use this to mark that a bill has cleared the bank so I can easily see if a bill has not been paid.

Step 5:  Create a duplicate sheet each month and rename for the current month.  At the bottom of the sheet, you should see a tab named Budget Template.  

  • Right click.  Click duplicate.
  • Right click on duplicate tab.  Click rename.

This will save you time so that you don’t have to set it up again.  Plus, it will help you budget for the next month. You can also review month to month to see if you have any spending trends or months that you need to save for because of birthdays, holidays, special events, etc.  

Tip:  We have a Capital One Venture Card that earns us double miles which we are able to use regularly (not endorsing just stating a fact).  We pay our bills from our bank account and put everything else on our Venture card (groceries, gas, eating out, clothes, craft shopping sprees).  Then we pay off our Venture card every month. This was so much easier for us than trying to categorize, keep track of how much did we spend and is there enough for this or that.  I know if I find myself at a craft sale, I can quickly look at how much is on the card and how many days left before I pay it off. Less stress and more fun shopping. Just be careful that the great price on yarn doesn’t make you go over and then you start to rack up interest!  We also budget a certain amount for cash in the bank, just in case we need cash for a festival or go somewhere that doesn’t take credit cards.

Remember, you set your goal for spending each month.  If you usually spend $1500 on everything other than bills and need to save for something special, then look at what you can cut back on (Starbucks ($5 a day x 5= 25 x 4= $100 a month) and set a goal to only spend $1400.  That’s $100 into savings just from skipping your morning stop at Starbucks (I know it’s hard, but you can do it).


How do I add more rows?

  • Click on row number where you want to add a row.  Right click and add a row above or below where you clicked.
  • Go over to the balance column. You should see a box with a balance, an empty box, and a box with numbers.  Click on the box with balance above empty box. You will see a blue box with a plus sign in the corner. Click and hold and drag the blue box to the bottom of the empty box.  You should now see an updated figure in the empty box.

I deleted a row and now I get an error.

  • Go to the balance column.  Click on last balance before error.  Drag blue box to end of spreadsheet. The formulas should be corrected and will auto-calculate.



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