Improving your financial situation is a lot of work, especially when you haven’t been careful with it. In years passed, I used Mint and I still think it is a great tool but I prefer spreadsheets because it forces me to collect our financial information, really look at and process it.
Here’s a link to our current spreadsheet template with dummy numbers as an example. You should be able to go to ‘File’ and ‘Make A Copy’ to use it for yourself. In a new file you can duplicate the January sheet for February. There are formulas for totals but nothing too sophisticated if you delete boxes.
The design bases our current spending on our previous month’s income. I include what our budget is for certain categories and track the reality. I also separate our mandatory bills from our discretionary spending because at least hypothetically we have more control over certain categories.
Each week I plug in our spending based on what’s been charged to our credit card/bank account. The top portion is the variable expenses with both individual and cumulative totals. Below I plug in the bills as they come in and have a total of all the money spent that week. Those numbers also feed the monthly spending overview at the top.
Parts might seem repetitive or broken down to an extreme but I like details and I want to know exactly what our spending looks like in specific categories, broad categories and as a big picture. I also want to be able to quickly check how we’re actually doing compared to how we hoped we would be doing.
Next week is February 1st (!) and I’ll be breaking down the first month on our new budget and go over our plans for the month ahead.