Funny story… Typing the title to this, I almost typed “Spreadsheet Bills”: “bills” and “bliss” – so close, yet so far away.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Okay, so I’m realizing that as a personal finance blogger (well, I don’t really feel like one officially – I’m really just a person tracking her money and debt on a blog) kind of straddles the line between normal person and totally weird person. I mean… I can’t really talk to my friends about any of these things. Most of my friends are uncomfortable talking about money in this much detail, or simply don’t have the interest I do in the subject. Plus, while I’m not open to telling most of my friends too many of our financial details, I’m more comfortable baring this information online as a mostly-anonymous blogger. (Not completely comfortable, mind you – it does take some getting used to, but I realized that trying to blog about this kind of stuff was going to be way harder to do if I didn’t use actual numbers!) But, as I was saying, it’s totally normal on the PF blogosphere to discuss numbers so frankly, but not “IRL,” as they say. Anyway, that’s kind of weird.
I’ve moved beyond just tracking our spending and budgets on Mint.com; last month, I decided we needed to be putting aside money for the expected expenses (that don’t happen monthly), which I’ve talked about a number of times in other posts. However, I realized to save in multiple categories, I’d need to track them in some way, which Mint wasn’t going to be able to do for me.
Savings Goal Tracker Spreadsheet
Back in December, I did a brief Google search for a savings excel spreadsheet, and I came up with this one from Vertex42.com: http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/savings-goal-tracker.html
I love how simple it is (’cause I need simple, people). The only thing I don’t love is that I can’t access it from anywhere – it lives on my laptop, not on my Google Drive. I haven’t been able to copy and paste it into a Google spreadsheet – anyone ever had success with this? I don’t fuss with the formulas – that’s why I have a pre-made spreadsheet, so it does it for me! #lazy
I categorized our planned-for expenditures by looking at what we spent last year and dividing by 12. Then I decided we could put that much away monthly if we managed to spend that much throughout the year anyway. I have categories like car insurance, business expenses, L’s registration fees and school trip $ (looking ahead to kindergarten in the fall), etc. I hear that online banks like Capital One 360 / ING Direct have a way for you to do this right in your account if you have a savings account with them, but the interest rate isn’t higher than our credit union, so I’m sticking with what we have for now.
Debt Optimizer (<— That’s a direct download link)
I don’t remember how I found this one, but it’s similar to Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball tool, but you can save your information without having to sign up for his website updates, etc. The site has other spreadsheets I haven’t tried, too. This is a fantastic tool, as it follows the system of paying down debts by largest interest rates first (which is not the same as Dave Ramsey’s system, but to each his/her own), and it actually gives me a date by which I could reasonably expect to have all of our student loans paid off (November 2019). The first sheet has instructions, the second is where you enter all your debts, and the third gives you the payoff dates. Sweet.
However, there are adjustments that will have to be made to it as we go, since we are choosing to pay down our car loan (which is at a great interest rate through our credit union) before we pay down our loan with the highest interest rate, since we don’t want our car to break down and us be on the hook for a car loan.
Google Drive Spreadsheet
Okay, I’m including this only because it’s technically a spreadsheet, but it really doesn’t do anything except allow me to clearly show our debt eradication. It is for tracking – it doesn’t do math or use any formulas. I just use it to put on this blog… and also to gaze at every once in a while to make me feel good. Bonus: I can edit this at work, because it’s on Google Drive.
Is this just what happens to a normal person who’s watching his/her budget? Suddenly you decide to take the leap and become a person who is no longer just tracking money but someone who makes it almost a
n obsession part-time job?
Maybe it’s time for you to make the leap from simple, free budgeting software to something more intense?!
Do you use fancy budgeting spreadsheets? How do they change your outlook on finances and money management?