Welcome to my secret behind how I manage to make an average saving of 83.71% of my monthly disposable income (after bills) since October 2019. This means I am spending approximately only £204.57 per month after bills. Due to this finance tracking spreadsheet entirely, which I started in December 2018, I have managed to save enough money for a buy-to-let (25%) flat deposit on an annual salary of £23k. I have also been able to comfortably pay for my Invisalign treatment and laser eye surgery up front totalling just under £8k. Admittedly, although my monthly bills are relatively low, I still think this is quite impressive. I have not written this blog to brag but to help you achieve your own saving goals!
Note: It may be a while until I invest in my first property but join my journey as I will of course be blogging about my experience from the start with buying-to-let. Additionally, the annual salary stated above does not reflect my salary since being promoted. However, this is the accurate amount for which the above saving statements have been made on. I do also put small monthly amounts into an ISA and I have a LISA too as mentioned here.
Table of Contents
- Why you NEED a Finance Tracking Spreadsheet
- What is a Finance Tracking Spreadsheet?
- Benefits of a Finance Tracking Spreadsheet
- Examples of a BAD Finance Tracking Spreadsheet
- What does a Good Finance Tracking Spreadsheet Look Like?
- Finance Tracking Spreadsheet Template
- Finance Tracker – Summary
- Finance Tracking Excel Spreadsheet Download
Why you NEED a Finance Tracking Spreadsheet
Your finance tracking spreadsheet will be the KEY to your saving success
If you are serious about saving, this is one of those things that you think you probably do not need. However, once you start using it, you will question why you lived so long without it. I strongly believe that everyone needs this/a spreadsheet in their lives to turn wanting to save into actively saving.
If you are thinking, “my spending is fine and I am saving enough” please read on…
This reminds me of my late teenage years/early 20s. I weighed 45kg, which was extremely underweight for my height of 5’6″. I would constantly say I was eating enough and that being underweight was due to my high metabolism. However, it was only until I truly started tracking what I was eating in Myfitnesspal that I realised this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Within the first month of tracking and actively trying to eat more, I gained 5kg and was thrilled! Applying this to the current scenario, sure the reality may not be as extreme as this example and your spending may be fine but could it be better?
In this article I will discuss exactly what you need to consider when putting your spreadsheet together and how to effectively use the spreadsheet. I will walk you through a professional tutorial of what to expect from the spreadsheet. Do not worry about taking notes as the spreadsheet will come with a how-to guide.
This has taken me years to build to make it as effective as it is now. It may seem quite simple but all the different aspects to factor in are not obvious straight away.
Click on the below image to access the tracker:
What is a Finance Tracking Spreadsheet?
Before getting into the details you need to first understand what a finance tracking spreadsheet is. It literally does what it says on the tin, tracks your finances. The way this works is that it is a manual spreadsheet where you input all your incoming and outgoing expenses. Please do not get put off by the word “manual” as if it was not manual and you used an app for example, it would not be as effective. To get the most out of this, try to update the spreadsheet every few days or on a weekly basis at the very least. This is not excessive but is in fact required to really get a handle on your spending.
Are you one of those individuals who claim not to spend much but at the same time question where all their money has gone? Do not worry, this is not a bad thing. It just highlights why you really need this spreadsheet. Great ready to experience those “ah-ha!” moments.
Some of these “ah-ha!” moments include:
- Riiight, so these coffees are actually adding up
- Exactly where you are going wrong with your current spending habits
- The ideal amount you should be spending per month to achieve your savings goals
- and much, much more…
Benefits of a Finance Tracking Spreadsheet
Using this spreadsheet or at least a spreadsheet is hands down the best way to really actively start saving. You will get into a true savings mentality and accountability is key. Once you have the spreadsheet you can start saving NOW but this really needs to come from you. The spreadsheet won’t populate itself and if it did, you would not feel the full effect of accountability. You would not feel as disappointed for buying something you did not need if you did not have to put it into the spreadsheet and see the negative impact on your savings goal.
The key benefit, how do you know how well you are saving if you aren’t tracking it? You may see your bank balance increase but are you really optimising your savings?
Examples of a BAD Finance Tracking Spreadsheet
You may be questioning whether you can actually produce a bad finance tracking spreadsheet. Surely any tracking is good. However, from my many years of experience I can tell you bad spreadsheets do exist. Here are some red-flags to identify this:
- The spreadsheet is not tailored to your spending habits. An example of this is where you have an ‘other’ heading that has a dump of spending that is usually the same types of spending each month. This is not clear.
- You only allow your spending to be split into the main spending categories such as mobile phone, gym, clothes, etc and cannot disaggregate this further. You really need to deep dive into your spending to become completely accountable. Your spreadsheet must allow you to write down every single item of your spending e.g. ‘clothes’ would include Zara, H&M, and so on. This sounds excessive but it is needed to really track and drill down into your spending habits.
- It does not link to your overall saving goals. You cannot know whether you are overspending or not if you do not assess how much you need to save each month.
- Holidays are factored into monthly spend whereas these are likely to be one offs and would distort your monthly metrics.
What does a Good Finance Tracking Spreadsheet Look Like?
A good finance tracking spreadsheet must factor in all of the above. It should be in a format that works for you and is easy to use. The more complicated and difficult the spreadsheet gets, the less likely you are to use this. The spreadsheet must include:
- The personal finance tracker in the layout that is the best for you
- A separate tab for holiday finance tracking also with the layout option you prefer
- A basic savings forecast that is helpful so you can see a bigger picture
- A current savings tracker again in your own preferable format so you will be able to clearly see the fruits of your hard work
- Password protection on the file as you would not want this getting into the wrong hands
Finance Tracking Spreadsheet Template
Lucky for you, I have already created a template for you. The hard work was already put in by me over the past few years to get this to the standard it is at today. The personal finance tracker, holiday tracker and current savings tracker all come with two layout options so you can trial both and see what works best for you. There are also detailed instructions in the step-by-step user guide that includes details for how to password protect the file.
You can get 20% off if you join my journey and a FREE basic version! Spending £3.99 may seem like it is a step in the opposite direction but it will help you to get you closer to where you want to be.
Let’s break down the finance tracking spreadsheet so you know exactly how it works.
Personal Finance Tracker
This image is a small snippet of the finance tracker which shows one of the layout options (the one I use) in the blue colour option. There is also a peach colour option available instead of blue and both the blue and peach versions will be provided. Please note that the spreadsheet comes with many more spending category columns so this can be tailored for YOU. What can be seen here is that there is a blue line to insert comments and below there are cell to include the numbers. This is crucial to get to the bottom of your spending.
The prepopulated calculation cells that include the formulae are protected cells. This ensures they cannot be altered or accidentally deleted and is helpful for Excel beginners. Additionally, the tracker is ready for 12 months of use. The months can be rearranged so you can get one year’s use and start using the spreadsheet from TODAY.
You may have noticed the ‘Total’ heading is highlighted in pink. This is formatted so if the spending after disposable income reaches greater than £400, you will be alerted of this. I personally find this feature very helpful as it really tells me I need to reign my spending in. After years of practise, I rarely reach this limit now.
Separate Holiday Tracker
The separate holiday tracker tab is very similar to the personal finance tracker tab. It also comes with two different layout options in the same way the finance tracking spreadsheet does. However, the difference is that this tab is tailored to holiday related spend. There are more columns available to again make this your own. The intention of this tab is not to make you spending conscious on holiday but instead just to keep track. As long as you set an overall limit in line with your savings goal and meet it, feel free to have fun with your spending on holiday.
As mentioned, this tab is needed is because you do not want to factor this into your monthly spend as it will distort your view of your monthly savings. Other large payments such as annual car insurance or council tax for example I would put into the finance tracker tab. You could either split this out into monthly payments or deduct it below the annual total savings for the year.
The concept of this tab is brilliant if I do say so myself. This is where the bigger picture is tied in. If you use this tab to project your forecast savings, it will push you to want to save effectively. Use this tab to allow you to figure out where you want to be and where you realistically can be.
Ensure to refer to the step-by-step illustrative guide to gain further clarity if needed for this tab.
Current Savings Tracker
This tab allows you to consolidate and track all of your savings at any point in time. I ended up adding this tab to my finance tracking spreadsheet quite late actually. However, it has been very beneficial as I have been able to see my savings actually grow. I tend to use this tab on a monthly basis or every couple of months. It really gives you that sense of pride and feeling of accomplishment. It also is essentially like a stock count, you can see exactly how much you have available which is definitely good to be aware of.
Again, all columns can be tailored for you and there is a second layout option and colour available.
Finance Tracker – Summary
To summarise, the ultimate finance tracking spreadsheet helps you maximise your saving potential by closely tracking your finances. Remember, not all finance trackers are useful. A good finance tracker must include:
- A format that works for you so it is easy to use
- The ability to really disaggregate your spending, down to the penny
- Separation of one-off large expenses such as holidays
- A link to your ultimate saving goals
- A link to your current savings as they stand today so you can see the fruits of your hard work
And to close, always ask yourself this:
Think about the goals you have set yourself and which items you would like to possess or investments you want to hold… Are you on track? Are you on track? And if you think you are far off is it actually out of your reach?
Finance Tracking Excel Spreadsheet Download
This spreadsheet is multi-purpose. Not only will it allow you to control your spending but it will also allow you to maximise your savings! I literally live by this finance tracking spreadsheet and will continuously rave about it because it really is great if used properly.
Click the button below to get your ultimate finance tracker download and do let me know how you get on!