Simplifying our lives has not been an easy task. I will tell you that none of it would be possible without having a plan for our finances. When we started out we both had $20k in student loans (each), about $10k in credit card debt(together). Budgeting and sticking to our plan has allowed us to pay off all of my student loan debt and all but $250 of our credit card debt. We are now working on paying down the rest of hubby’s student loans and then we will begin to work on paying down our mortgage and car note. 

The keys to regaining financial freedom:

  1. Have a realistic budget you can stick to.  Use spreadsheets or tools like Mint.com to help you keep track of your goals.
  2. Use your money wisely- pay down higher interest rate debt first.
  3. Periodically do a spending fast to help you meet your financial goals quicker.

I also  found a really cool site http://www.budgetsaresexy.com with lots of information about personal finance. I thought the budget templates might be helpful to some of you. If you have some free time take a look at his website. It is jam packed with information and ideas for people that are trying to become debt free. 

Financial Snapshot & Budget“Financial Snapshot & Budget” @ Budgets Are Sexy
Google Doc | Excel | Example (filled in) | More detailsA colorful and easy way to track your budget and overall Financial Snapshot! Room to budget per paycheck, detail your net worth (if you want), credit card balances, savings funds, total income, and an extra budget just in case 🙂
4-Step Budget“4 Step Budget Template” @ Life After College
Google Doc | More detailsMost budgets are too cumbersome to be useful (in my humble opinion). Check-out this handy four-step budget: After filling in income, must-have expenses and nice-to-have expenses, you’ll get a “monthly allowance” for you to spend on discretionary items as you’d like, with the peace of mind of knowing that your main expenses are taken care of.
Financial Life on One Page“FLOP – Financial Life on One Page” @ Christian PF
Excel | More details | His other great templates!I love this one because it’s a single file for all your financial account details. It has three main purposes: a balance sheet, a place for all login info, and a financial roadmap. And Bob recommends keeping an updated file of this somewhere safe in case a family member needs at any point.
Personal Monthly Budget“Personal Monthly Budget” @ My Money Shrugged
Google Doc | Net Worth Google Doc | More detailsThis budget spread sheet works because it allows you to put in projected and actual income and cost and then shows you the difference. It is a great way to be able to compare each category or individual areas. This budget is also broken up into different categories based on major areas of your budget – housing, transportation, insurance, food, savings, etc.
2010 Budget Template“2010 Budget Spreadsheet” @ Finance for a Freelance Life Excel | Blog Income | Freelance Income | More detailsThis budget spreadsheet is very basic and is meant to be adapted to any person’s unique situation. It’s easy to add or delete lines and to change the names of categories to better fit your life. For convenience in tracking specific purchases throughout the month, it has a spending log as the first page. This way, you can not only see how much you spent in each category at the end of the month, you can track how purchases added up.
E.O.D. Deluxe Budget 2.0“E.O.D. Deluxe Budget 2.0″ @ Enemy of Debt
Excel | More detailsEOD Deluxe Budget 2.0 is a comprehensive budget spreadsheet including a zero-based budget, an allocated spending worksheet, a checking account ledger, a savings allocation worksheet, as well as a lump sum payment schedule.
Monthly Report Template“Monthly Report Template” @ Fiscal Fizzle
Microsoft Word | More detailsA monthly financial report presented to your family or significant other keeps everyone accountable, aware, focused on goals and progress, and gives you the opportunity to celebrate success. This short but powerful financial template includes areas for monthly cash flow review, net worth tracking, credit score monitoring, goal tracking, and a notes area to explain unusual financial activity for the month or upcoming months. While it’s easy to read and review with everyone out of “the box,” remember to customize this template for your own system!
Free Budget Spreadsheet“Free Budget Spreadsheet” @ Money Under 30
Excel | Really Simple Budget | More detailsUsing the spreadsheet is easy. Enter the monthly amounts in the appropriate categories, estimating any value that fluctuates from month-to-month. Once you’ve entered the values, the spreadsheet will tell you how much you will have left at the end of the month to save or put towards debt. It will also tell you how close you are to an ideal income allocation (such allocation models are frequently used by banks and other lenders for determining your financial balance).
How Much Debt Costs You“How Much Debt Costs You” @ Debt Free Adventure
Google Doc | More detailsComplete with CHART. Figure out how much your debt costs you each month. Specifically, how much of your loan payments are allocated toward interest (paying for the debt) and how much toward principal (paying the debt down.) *Included are 3 sheets: Data, Chart, and Print* 

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