A version of this post originally appeared on my previous (now-defunct) blog.
I’ve read my fair share of personal finance books over the years, but there’s one in particular (and it may not even be in the personal finance category per se) that led me to really crack down on my individual money matters and personal cash flow.
As a mom working full-time from home and a sometime-freelancer with various sources of income, money tracking is extremely important. This is a topic that most definitely needs to be addressed proactively every day throughout the year rather than just during tax season.
I’m talking more than just dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s when it comes to expenses, income, and taxes — I’m talking about tracking personal spending because the first step to fixing, improving, or efficiently maintaining your financial health is understanding your own finances and spending habits.
Why is this important? TL;DR, being at peace with your financial situation lets you live your life more freely and enjoy your time more fully. How? Because you’ll know exactly where you stand with your money.
BTW — the book that inspired me is the original version of Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, In this book, Denise Duffield-Thomas touches on manifestation, self-improvement, and personal finance. She’s a seriously down-to-earth business coach from Australia, and her writing is equally useful as it is entertaining and motivating!
Track yo’ cash flow!
To get myself on track, I created a personal cash flow spreadsheet in Numbers. This spreadsheet made it easier for me to track my income, savings, and expenses.
I know not everybody has access to Numbers or Excel though, so I created a simple monthly money tracking spreadsheet that you can access via Google Drive.
- Make sure you’re signed into your Google account.
- Go the spreadsheet by clicking on this link.
- Click on File → Make a Copy and save it to your own Google Drive account. Note: you also have the option of downloading it as a Microsoft Excel doc from the File menu, but I don’t recommend doing that. Some of the formulas and formatting get lost in translation and show up all wanky in Excel.
Did you save the spreadsheet to your Google Drive? Go ahead— I’ll wait!
Okay, the next thing I want you to do is set yourself reminders to fill out the worksheet. Sure, sure— I know you plan on being diligent about money tracking, but remind me, this one step will help immensely with making the act of recording and tracking your personal cash flow a habit.
I personally use the built-in Reminders app on iOS and OS X. There are dedicated reminder apps out there that are completely free, like Wunderlist or Any.DO, or you can simply set a recurring alarm to go off every day— whatever works for you!
Filling out this spreadsheet will take up anywhere from a minute or less to fewer than five minutes a day, and it will be time well spent.
Review your worksheet
After a few weeks of tracking your spending and income, you’ll start to see patterns pop up. You’ll see where you need to improve, and you’ll find where you need to make changes.
Tracking my spending has helped me tremendously, and I hope my Google Sheets spreadsheet template helps you out, too!
Questions? Comments? Comment below, or get in touch.😄