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.
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.
- 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.
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 👎.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
|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!
- 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!