My Early Retirement Journey

Review | 3 Free Spreadsheets You Might Want To Try

So when I was doing my June 2018 Financial Update, I was looking into different spreadsheets. Primarily I wanted a way to visualize my numbers and maybe refine the spreadsheet I’d made back in December 2017 when I first started this Journey.

Below is what mine looks like. It’s functional but a bit clunky and I keep adding things. And then I get annoyed with having to re-write the formula. I want something a bit more automated, and I want it now, says the millennial in me.

My Early Retirement Journey - tracking your spending

Currently I’m only tracking my savings and investment balances quarterly, or every three months. If you’re just joining us I just started this Journey Dec 2017 and started blogging around Feb 2018.

Four Pillar Freedom
Onwards. I know Four Pillar Freedom creates some nice visuals and I knew he’d posted a free copy of his spreadsheet. So I gave that a try.

tracking your spending


free spreadsheet

Key points:

  • I liked the simple bar graph to track your net worth over time.
  • I liked that there wasn’t much data entry involved and I didn’t have to manipulate any fields.
  • The spreadsheet is set to track your net worth until 2030. Love that!
  • However it is simply a visual for account balances.

Google Sheets
Next is the Google Sheets Annual Budget sheet. I am becoming more and more of a fan of the Google suite. I think it’ll be a tough ask to leave Blogger, says the novice blogger in me. Everything is so easily accessible with just one log-in! (That has an obvious con 👎.)

google sheeets example
  • I had to fumble a bit with this one. It has 4 sheets:
    • Setup – where you just enter your starting balance in one cell
    • Expenses – a very thorough itemized list with about a dozen category headings in alphabetical order; beginner’s tip – start entry in each cell with  = and then + each expense as you encounter it from your different statements
    • Income – entered from my paystubs
    • Summary – a nice visual with a line graph and a cumulative and average for each expense category (seen above).
  • I found the summary especially helpful. The line graph charts both income and expenses over time so you can see the distance between each line pictorially. Ideally, you’d want those lines to have a fair amount of distance between them so it’s great because you can see how this difference changes over your time horizon.
google sheets summary


  •  Next the summaries in numbers (seen above). Gives you a quick overview. I personally didn’t realize I had that much income every month because all I get is about a $400 to $500 allowance each month on my prepaid BlueBird card (no affiliate). The rest is auto-deposited to various checking, savings and investment accounts. So not only can you see monthly and cumulative income but you can see see a quick overview of what you’re spending in each category, monthly, cumulatively, averaged, and as a bar graph.


google sheets summary
  •  The spreadsheet is a bit clunky but overall meets my basic budgeting needs. Of note, I was initially attracted to it because it had a line item for domain registrations and the like. Can you believe that! We are in some modern times!

Zero Day Finance
Next I tried, David’s spreadsheets over at Zero Day Finance. Currently, you have to sign up for his mailing list but there are plans in the works to make the spreadsheets available on his site without doing this. Stay tuned!

free budget spreadsheet
Notice the tabs


  • That is one involved spreadsheet! There are four sheets of data entry: Accounts, Savings, Spending, Income.
  • Then he does some nice Summary and Analysis for you on the following two spreadsheets. These have a FIRE lean and can calculate your monthly savings rate and cumulative spending rate as the year goes on. That is a nifty feature, I must say.  There are FIRE projections based on your current spending and savings. Using that input, the FIRE projections calculate your anticipated annual FIRE expenses and estimate the amount needed for financial independence based on the oft touted Trinity Study. The Analysis tab then gives you a countdown in years to FI.
  • It is well worth the effort for the active FIREe!
 free investment tracker
  • As a bonus there is a seventh sheet where you can enter in hypothetical numbers and see how that might affect your date to FIRE and a nice visual of projections of your investment horizon.
  • Tip: to change the date to 2018: Open your spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel and locate the date you wish to increment by one month. Type “=DATE(YEAR(A1),MONTH(A1)+1,DAY(A1))” without quotes in a blank cell, replacing “A1” with the reference to the cell containing the date. (source)

Overall, I had to use my spreadsheet and the Google Docs sheet to populate the other two spreadsheets I stumbled upon on these internets. I can see why most people use an app to track these things. I don’t mind the manual entry for now. Provides some reflection points. However, I can see how this can get old quite quick as even now I only do updates every 3 months. I’ve done 2 so far this year, my first year on the Journey.  I actually don’t know how the apps work as far as obtaining and calculating your income?? Anyone?

What spreadsheet/apps do you use? Any faves? Any you tried and outgrew? Do tell!

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  1. I'm useless at spreadsheets, so useless that any of these 3 would be a massive step up for me. But a step too far given I am less than 2 years from FIRE now. I'll stick with my very basic spreadsheet that has about 2 formula's cos that's all I know.

  2. 2 years really! What are your plans? What's the update on the house…on Tuppeny's Fireplace. Meant to say I love the logo by the way. Also…find a way to add the button back where you can click to get an email when someone replies to comments!

  3. Now do you really think I know how to do techy stuff like taking away or adding buttons back? Didn't know they had disappeared! I'll add it to my to do list just for you.

    Plans are, move to the Lake District, walk all the Wainwrights we haven't (fells/peaks that aren't really mountains cos we don't have any), grow our own food and chill out!

    We had another trip around my birthday and had such fantastic weather we spent most of it walking. Next holiday for late Sept already booked to research south west lakes having decided we do like central west lakes area but not north west lakes. Any excuse for another week away eh?!

  4. I love that plan. You execute your plans! I remember when I used to do that. I have PTO scheduled in September too…but no plans. Perhaps I shall visit a lake district and do some walks… so many things…so little will… 🙂

  5. found this just for you… not on wp anymore so i can't guarantee how easy it is to follow…but i believe in you!

  6. Thanks for that MERJ! Have had a quick read and bookmarked it to return when I do blog maintenance.
    You can still execute plans, just make 'em! Stick a pin in a map of a US state, research it and go there. If you want lakes, choose a state which has a big one which you can see on the map, and go there Book an airbnb now and plan the rest when you arrive. You only need your accomodation booking if you are driving there. (Maybe choose a state within driving distance – I forget the US is so big!)

  7. yes, yes…all your words sound so easy in theory… and once upon a time it was… but somehow my mind has made these simple endeavors quite the undertaking. a lady at work even gave me some driving distance destinations…after 3 clicks… i just get tired of all the choices…

  8. Nice summary of spreadsheets

  9. Hey MERJ, I've been managing the last couple of months using my own self-built spreadsheet, and I found this post of yours so helpful. I'm definitely going to be checking out the ones you've posted about, and either making the switch to them entirely, OR building in some changes to my own lil spreadsheet.
    Thank you again! 🙂

  10. Hey there! I love to hear that! Yeah, I have discovered even more. Excel has tons o templates. I'm hoping to either like you said create one really good one from bits of others or maybe share some more of my faves. Glad you stopped by!

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