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Creating a personal financial spreadsheet involves using a spreadsheet program to create an organized record of recurring monthly expenses, such as mortgage or rent, car payments, utilities, and other expenses. Each type of expense should be listed in its own column, and as payments are made, they should be listed in the corresponding column. In addition, the spreadsheet should list total monthly income, as well as total expenditures. The personal finance spreadsheet can also contain additional worksheets or notes to provide additional detail for financial figures.
Using a personal finance spreadsheet allows individuals to create a financial tool for a wide range of possibilities. While user-created spreadsheets allow for customization of budgets and expenditures, using a template built into your software or downloaded from the Internet can help you avoid some of the technical aspects of creating a finance spreadsheet.
Prior to jumping on the computer and cranking out a personal finance spreadsheet, however, it's important to create a plan. This involves looking at monthly expenses, reviewing money received from jobs and other sources and determining the size and scope of the spreadsheet. Having a copy of the previous month’s bills or receipts can also help this process go more smoothly. If it takes some time to pull these documents together, a filing system for financial paperwork should be a priority after creating the personal finance spreadsheet.
The previous month’s payments will provide a basic idea of how much income is needed to maintain a specific standard of life. Upon completing the spreadsheet, individuals may discover they have an income problem rather than a spending problem. This results when not enough income is available to pay the bare minimum expenses in life. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals may find that their monthly expenditures are significantly higher than expected. For example, if a negative number is the result of subtracting total monthly expenditures from total monthly income, it is time to cut expenses.
Creating standard percentages for each expense column is typical in a personal finance spreadsheet. For example, setting a target expenditure of 35 percent maximum for housing expense can help guide the amount of house you should rent or buy. Doing this for all expenditures (basing 100 percent as the total monthly income) helps create constraints easily applied to future spreadsheets. A good tip for these spreadsheets is to create a new tab for each month. This allows for a direct comparison for monthly expenditures and income.
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