Fellow Savers, I kept intending to write a step-by-step tutorial for creating my spreadsheets, complete with screen captures. They’re fairly simplistic — I dare say it would take considerably fewer than an infinite number of monkeys typing on computers to come up with them — but they would take a fair bit of explaining and screen-capturing to show you how to create one.
Then I had the brilliant idea — or rather, my friend’s Facebook page gave me the idea — of sharing my “Future Checkbook” file via Google Drive. (That’s where I keep most of my files anyway, so it was easy.) You should be able to save a copy of your own and get to work budgeting!
So here they are! You’ll notice two tabs on the spreadsheet:
The Ledger is what I use to keep track of exactly where I am in my financial life. When I update it, I paste my current checking account balance at the top, delete any transactions that have occurred since the last time I updated it, and add any future transactions I know about that aren’t already on there. There are some sweet features; Column D lets you know what the checking account balance will be at any particular time after a transaction. And, if Column D ever shows a negative balance, the font of that cell turns red to make sure it stands out!
The Bills & Budget tab is where I keep my “fixed” budget — the predicted monthly income and bills and general spending category amounts. When my Ledger has less than a month of future transactions on it, I paste a copy of my Bills & Budget info at the bottom, tweak the dates and format, and add any unusual expenses or bits of income that I know will be coming that month.
It’s a hands-on system that requires frequent updates and contact with your checking account. That’s what I like about it — it requires me to stay involved with our finances. Maybe someday I’ll be ready to move to a system that can go on autopilot, but as long as I’ve got very aggressive debt and savings goals that require pretty strict budgeting, I like it this way.
Besides the actual making it jibe with your checkbook and your bills, and troubleshooting if you see it’s not adding up at the bottom, the only work you’ll have to do is on the Ledger spreadsheet:
1. f you add or delete rows or move them around, you’ll want to copy the Column D cell above the ones you changed, select a chunk of Column D cells below that include the affected ones, and paste. This makes sure the formula is preserved. You’ll see what I mean if you start using these spreadsheets — it’s really easy.
2. When you add more cells at the bottom to paste in another month’s budget, you’ll want to select the entire Column C from the checking account balance to the last amount in the spreadsheet and hit the sum function button to add them up, so your bottom number includes the new cells.
Other than that, you may find yourself tweaking it a bit to make it work for you, but it should be fairly functional. And if you ever do mess up the formulas in the cells and want to start over, you can just come back here and save another copy!
Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net