The answer is “yes.” No wait; the answer is “yes (with enthusiasm).”

Making a budget is literally the second step in owning your personal finances. The only thing that comes before your budget is making money (there’s no sense in budgeting zero dollars).

Talk to your parents about back in the day where they would actually save up for weeks, months, or even years to buy something they wanted, instead of just putting it on a credit card now and getting it (along with lots of interest charges) now and paying later. Those were the days of responsible personal finance.

If you are content with being a missed paycheck away from being completely broke, then a budget is not for you. If you get an adrenaline rush by screening telephone calls for collectors, then definitely don’t make a budget. If you want are purposely trying to avoid getting a mortgage, small business loan, car loan, or even a credit card with a decent credit limit and a rewards program, then never make a budget!

If you want to live a more comfortable, stress free life, then maybe a budget is for you. If you do make a budget and start tracking all of your expenses, you will almost certainly be amazed when you find out how much money you spend on things like eating out or nighttime entertainment and you will probably be appalled at how much of your money the government takes in taxes. You will also probably immediately notice places where you are spending way too much money, and if you cut back, you could start paying down debt or building your savings.

Here’s the deal: if you don’t already have a budget, use one of the links below to make a budget and follow it for three months. If you don’t feel like you have more control over your life and your finances at the end of the three months, then you probably did it wrong, and I can’t do anything for you. On the other hand, if it works and you feel compelled to thank me then don’t hesitate to use that extra money to buy me gifts.

My Video on Using the Spreadsheet: coming soon

If you are good with Excel, here is a direct link to downloading the Budget Spreadsheet, but I suggest you take a gander at how I make simple edits that make it much more effective.

If you want something a little easier, go with Mint.com; a great free online budgeting tool. It’s pretty self explanatory over there, so just head on over and check it out.

Finally, if you know of any other cool ways to make a budget. Your own spreadsheet, maybe a website that is better than mint.com, post it in the comments below.