I’m frequently asked, “How do you keep track of your money?” which the short answer is, with a very nerdy late 90’s spreadsheet.
The first time I moved out of my parent’s house I moved from Michigan to Collonges-Sous-Saléve, France. I had a set amount of money I had saved for the year, and no intention of getting a job in my time abroad, so I needed to make sure I stayed within budget. Thus, the spreadsheet was born.
This spreadsheet isn’t fancy, but it is efficient.
And today I’m sharing it with you! All the equations have been entered so as long as you don’t make any changes to the sheet other than filling it out, you won’t need any knowledge of excel. Even if you do want to make changes, the equations are very simple and could be drug over.
The spreadsheet below has different tabs for September – December of 2018. If you find you enjoy using it, you can duplicate one of the tabs, rename them, and continue through 2019.
Across the top, you have different categories which you can change depending on your bills.
The first column is an “income” category. I prefer to keep this as after taxes so you know how much you have to work with.
Since my finances just include my dog and I, I’ve found making a general “bills” category works for me. In my spreadsheet I already have my fixed monthly bills entered in on the day’s they are due so I don’t have to add to it every month. This works for me because I have a pretty good idea of when things are due. But if you have a larger family or just a lot of bills that you want to keep more specific track of, you may want to just consider making separate tabs for things such as “rent, utilities, insurance, internet, etc.”
The rest of the categories are also pretty general, but personally, I don’t need to know exactly what restaurants I ate at, just how much I spent at them. And if I do end up needing to know where I spent $102.00 I can usually just search the date in my bank app to find out it was Taco Bell.
You’ll see down the side there are numbers for each day of the month. This could be rearranged to have specific bills down the left side, and just their totals on the top. I just prefer it this way because I like to see how much I’m spending over any time period.
To use, I usually sit down and fill this out every 2 weeks. It doesn’t take much time, and I’ve found to be a good reminder to me if I’m spending too much in the middle of the month. You could fill this out daily, or even just at the end of the month. But regardless of when you enter information in, enter in how much money you spent from what category on what date.
Once everything is entered, the spreadsheet will automatically calculate up the totals at the bottom. If for any reason yours is messed up or not working, I would first check your program has “automatic equations” turned on. If it still isn’t working after that, download the original spreadsheet and check that the equations are the same. The equations are all very simple subtraction and addition though so chances are you could figure it out on your own.
Really though, you should be just fine and the totals should change from 0 to your number! With this, you can add or subtract it to your total money you had at the beginning of the month to see if you’re over or underspending. And if you are overspending, you can easily see what area you should probably cut back on.
Again, feel free to customize this however you want, just remember if you’re making massive changes to check the calculations as they will have to be adjusted as well. If you don’t have excel fear not, I use this in Google Sheets cause I’m broke and don’t have the Microsoft Suite.