Tracking spending is important. To manage your money, you first need to know how much money you have. While there are many ways to track spend, tracking spend with Excel has worked the best for my household.
And, if you’re not already comfortable with spreadsheets, I promise that tracking your spend using Excel is not scary (click here for a short video tutorial!).
But, if you like, follow along using a notebook. After all, once upon a time, spreadsheets were just sheets 😉
Some reasons why I like to use Excel to track spend
There are other options to track your spend using spreadsheets, Google Sheets, for example. I’ve used Excel for many years and so began tracking my expenses using it. Here are some reasons I like it:
- By creating my own spreadsheet, I don’t have to share my information with other companies
- The free OneDrive cloud app makes it so my husband and I can both view the spend tracking file from our phones – you can set permissions for different users
- The free Excel app lets me do quick updates using my phone
- I already used Excel at work, so I was comfortable with it
Decide how to lay out your spend tracker file
Before you create a spend tracking spreadsheet, you need to consider how you may want to see the information.
It should be organized in a way that you can look at it and quickly have an idea of how much money you have.
For example, my spend tracking file has labels for:
- Each pay date
- The Amount Paid on that date and
- A calculation for the Balance (this is how much money you have)
- This is highlighted in yellow
- To the right of the Balance is each type of expense or transaction expected
It looks something like this:
Fill out the spending tracker
Once you’ve laid out your spending tracker, it’s time to fill in the information (click here to view the tutorial).
For this example, in each row, I list the amount for each bill due during that week. This helps me create a mini financial plan for each week.
For example, if I’m paid on 9/01/17 and my next pay day is 9/08/17, on the row labeled 9/01/17 I would list any bills due between the 1st and the 7th.
Once all the amounts owed have been entered, it’s time to calculate the Balance. In the Balance column, you’ll need a formula to:
- Add the Amount Paid to any left over money from the prior week
- Subtract all expenses for the week
If there’s extra money left after all the bills, consider putting some of your extra cash into savings or retirement investing.
Include savings in your spend tracking file
Lastly, on my household spend tracker, I list money for savings and our IRAs as bills. Because we owe it to ourselves to save.
Having the mindset that savings is a debt to yourself can help motivate you to save more.