Why Not Consider Wednesday: Why You Should Be Tracking Your Spending Part 2

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Spending- Part 1 discussed using a spreadsheet to track your spending and to make projections about what you may spend in the months to come so you could have an idea of what your expenses might be for the year. 

In order to facilitate this process, we have put a link on the right hand side of this blog.  If you click on: Track Your Spending Spreadsheet 2009 you will be directed to a spreadsheet that has been uploaded as a google document so we can link to it here.  You can click on File, Export, .xls and the document will be saved on your computer as an excel spreadsheet. Once this has been done, you can start adding figures in the boxes and calculating your own spending.

Note: the areas highlighted in Grey, Yellow and Pink are formula driven.  If you enter something into these areas, it will destroy the formulas and the spreadsheet will not work properly.  We would recommend staying away from these areas completely.

I use a similar spreadsheet, not only to track my actual spending but also to track my projected spending.  Here is what I do to distinguish between those dollar amounts that I have actually spent from those that I anticipate I will be spending.  I highlight the ones still to be spent in red.  At the top right of the excel spreadsheet you will see a paint bucket. Make sure you are in the box you want to highlight.  Now, click on the arrow to the right of the paint bucket.  This will allow you to select the color you want to use.  Now, the box will become highlighted in the color you have selected.  When you want to remove the highlighting, for instance, when you have paid the bill and the figure ceases to be a projected one and becomes an actual one, make sure you are on the excel box you want to remove the highlighting from, click on the arrow to the right of the paint bucket and select no fill.  This will remove the highlighting. 

I like doing this, not only because I can see what I expect to pay for things going forward, but, it also helps me make sure I have not missed paying a bill.  If I get to the end of the month and I still have items in red, I know that those items have not yet been paid.

This spreadsheet has been separated into two broad sections.  Section 1 which has one Total includes items that we anticipate you would be paying for on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis.   Section 2 has a Total Additional Costs for the year.  This section adds up items like insurance costs, doctor visits, clothing, one time costs (in other words, things that you don’t expect to pay every month but that you might have a bill for once a year or several times a year). 

At the bottom of the spreadsheet you will see a row entitled Total for the Year which has been highlighted in yellow.  This totals everything in the monthly categories so you can see how much you have spent in each of the categories at the end of each month. 

The very last row of the spreadsheet has an item entitled Grand Total for the Year which has been highlighted in pink.   This adds together the totals for section 1 and section 2 items in the spreadsheet to tell you how much you have spent for the entire year on all items.

There is a column at the end of the spreadsheet entitled Notes. I like entering notes into the spreadsheet to help me remember key purchases.  If after you have typed something in under notes you want to start a new idea (and put it on a new line) after you have finished typing the first note, hold down the Alt key while at the same time clicking on the Enter key.  This will take you to the next line so you can start typing something new.  Additionally, you can always make a short note in a box to the left or right of an item.  But this can get messy so be warned.

We hope this spreadsheet will be helpful and serve as a valuable resource.  Please note, nobody is perfect and although we tried to make sure that the formulas in this spreadsheet are 100% accurate, it is possible we made a mistake somewhere.  Additionally, it is possible that as you go along, you might change a formula by mistake.  So- we highly recommend doing some spot checks with a calculator at a minimum to make sure that the figures make sense, and/or just adding up months to make sure that the figures you have put in do indeed add up correctly- especially if you are relying heavily on this spreadsheet as a tool.

Now- you have the tools you need to succeed- so start tracking!

We have put a link to a partially filled out spreadsheet entitled SAMPLE under the Track Your Spending link.  I made up the figures in this spreadsheet and they don’t reflect reality.  The sample is really there just so you can see what the spreadsheet looks like when filled in.  You might want to take a look at the sample before you get started.

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