Anyone manage their personal finances by spreadsheet?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Trice, May 17, 2019.

  1. Trice

    Trice Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2010
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    There hasn't been a good personal finance thread in awhile so I thought I'd start one. There's a whole host of good apps and web sites out there to manage your money, but to this day I still use my own spreadsheet to do the job? Anyone else do the same?

    I think there are a few reasons why I continue to do this even though it is almost certainly more work.

    1. Apps come and go and I'm hesitant to invest time to learn a new system that could be shut down or try to upsell me on something I don't want.
    2. There's a "black box" quality to a lot of these web sites where you plug numbers in and it returns results to you, but the assumptions or methodologies are hard to decipher. I want to see how they get from Point A to Point B, but often that is proprietary.
    3. Entering my own data, building my own budget, etc. forces me to engage with it in a way that a web site wouldn't.
    4. It's free; I pay a modest sum for a few version of Office every few years but that's it.

    There are a lot of decent finance templates out on the web too, but I've mostly just built my own. I've had a day-to-day financial management spreadsheet for 20+ years, but more recently I've built a college savings calculator/manager and I'm working on a retirement sheet.

    Ideas/tips/tricks welcome.
     
  2. BCClone

    BCClone Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    I'm a hard paper person myself. Most kept in my head. I am hands on with finances so I prefer doing more things myself.

    @cowgirl836 spreadsheets were mentioned so you have to be alerted.
     
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  3. CascadeClone

    CascadeClone Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2009
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    I use my own spreadsheets, 3 of them:
    Net worth tracker
    Investment allocations & retirement planning
    Budgeting (just to plan, I don't track plus/minus)

    I do use Quicken to balance my checking account, but don't use any of the online features or even saving accounts anymore.

    I don't 100% trust online stuff and apps, and they always are missing something you wish you had. Plus if you want to do any custom analysis, guess what? You're doing a spreadsheet anyway...
     
  4. SCNCY

    SCNCY Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2009
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    I use a spreadsheet to track my investments. But for budgeting I use Mint, but I am interested in looking at another product in the near future.
     
  5. Cyclonepride

    Cyclonepride Thought Police
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    Apr 11, 2006
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    My wife keeps a spreadsheet. She does all the books for us.
     
  6. ribsnwhiskey

    ribsnwhiskey Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2009
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    Spreadsheets. That's what they were created for, and you can manipulate them to fit whatever you are trying to do.
     
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  7. clonebb

    clonebb Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2015
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    I don’t use anything but these principles:

    Put money in savings and retirement first
    Spend less than you make.
    Only buy when you can do so without borrowing.

    This philosophy allowed me to retire at 57.
     
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  8. cstrunk

    cstrunk Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2006
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    I have a simple spreadsheet that I use to track my bills and accounts... but that's about it. It helps me make sure I get everything paid. I probably need to clean it up and add some more stuff to it, though.
     
  9. mtowncyclone13

    mtowncyclone13 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2012
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    I have three spreadsheets.

    One is a monthly net worth calculation.
    One is an asset allocation calculation for when I reallocate.
    The last one is a budget which we rarely stick to.

    I can track data going back a decade and the line chart really helps put things into perspective.

    If I have $4000 in my savings account and feel bad it's nice to see I've got a few 100k in net worth that's spread out other places.
     
  10. Trice

    Trice Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2010
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    I'm not picking on you specifically but this comment reminded me of something. It seems like a lot of the personal finance experts/bloggers like to track net worth monthly, and that feels like micromanagement to me. It's a lot of account balances to track down (again, keeping in mind I do this in a spreadsheet and not an app) and it seems there is potential to get caught up in short-term market movements which could make a person antsy to make ill-advised investment changes if/when the market dips.
     
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  11. runbikeswim

    runbikeswim Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2014
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    I use excel. I have everything in a workbook, and I use different sheets for different things that all calculate into a main sheet of assets, income, and expenses.
     
  12. cowgirl836

    cowgirl836 Well-Known Member

    Sep 3, 2009
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    this is about where I am. Put investment stuff in more detail in a spreadsheet, but mostly utilize Mint.
     
  13. DeftOne

    DeftOne Active Member

    Dec 30, 2014
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    So, I guess I'll be the one to ask what everyone who visits this thread is probably thinking:

    Anyone actually willing to share their custom spreadsheets?

    If not, that's cool.
     
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  14. CascadeClone

    CascadeClone Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2009
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    That's almost exactly what I do Mtown. Although I only do the net worth numbers quarterly. Cuts down on the effort and market angst too. In the longer run, month-to-month isn't important, at least for me in my 40s. Maybe for 20s it would help see the impact of spend-vs-save and provide good motivation.

    And it is cool to see the ups and downs - I can definitely see the dot-com bust and the financial crash... AND how it has recovered :)
     
  15. wxman1

    wxman1 Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2008
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    Congratulations? Do you want to answer his question?

    I use a Google Sheet that I share with my wife to track everything. I am probably a little overboard but basically each year is separate and each month is a different tab.

    I have all of our "liabilities" in a list with the a description, amount and due date. Then I have a box for our current balance. Each week has it's own box.

    The current week is essentially
    =Current Balance-Liabilities+Income

    Future weeks=previous week-foretasted liabilities+income

    Every week is tied together for the whole year so I can roughly see how much we will have for any given week of the year if we only spend what is in our bills (lets be honest I am married).

    I have a similar one for our debt that basically lists each debt in the left column and then each month I update the balance. the bottom is a total per month and then I have a =previous month-current month to see what the change is.
     
  16. mtowncyclone13

    mtowncyclone13 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2012
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    I don't disagree with you but I don't totally agree either.

    In our case, only 30% of our assets are in non-retirement stock accounts. The rest is real estate equity, cars, savings account, life insurance cashout value, pension cashout value, etc. The reason I like monthly it is it reinforces good habits. I can see how paying off debt early vs expected returns of investing will pay off in the short and long term. It shows how my 529 plans are growing and if I can skip a few months-worth of investments to put that money elsewhere. The truth is I've scaled back a lot of my investing because I have two kids in daycare which costs more than our mortgage.
     
  17. dmclone

    dmclone Well-Known Member

    Oct 20, 2006
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    My net worth one is a simple one that anyone could throw together.

    I have an investment one and a retirement planner one that is pretty good and I'd be willing to share but not sure how to do that since it's on Google Sheets and I don't want anyone to know who I am :) Even if I make a copy and wipe out the data, not sure how to share without knowing who I am. I could convert them to Excel but this site won't allow me to upload excel files.
     
  18. jcyclonee

    jcyclonee Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2006
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    I prefer cocktail napkins.
     
  19. KCClone1

    KCClone1 Active Member

    Feb 28, 2010
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    This is the kind of stuff they should teach in high school instead of calculus, etc. Basic money management. So many people are clueless about where they stand financially.
     
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  20. Cyched

    Cyched Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2009
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    If my kid is wanting to go into engineering or another STEM field I’d love for them to be able to take calculus in HS

    I’m sure there’s a way schools could work a finance class in
     
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