File this one under why I should never read my emails. Haha. Just kidding, this was one I’d been thinking of writing for a while but just hadn’t written yet. So that email someone sent a couple months ago asking how to apply Excel to budgeting was just a good reminder that I wanted to get this done.
Over the last ten years of self-employment I’ve developed an Excel workbook I use to juggle my finances. Because one of the biggest challenges of self-employment is cash flow. I can make $25K in one month and then nothing for three. So I have to always be monitoring where I am in terms of cash to pay my bills. And I have to know where I can look to get cash to pay my bills if there isn’t a big paycheck coming and there isn’t enough in the bank account.
So over the years I’ve developed a focus on my short-term liquid net worth and also on haircutting my assets. (Much like a broker-dealer is required to haircut their securities portfolio when they value their holdings.) Because a 401(k) is great and all, but it doesn’t do you any good if you can’t pay your bills today.
In Budgeting for Beginners I talked about all of this and how to judge where you are financially and take steps to improve upon that. But what I didn’t include there was the Excel workbook I use to track all of this. And it’s not exactly intuitive how you’d create something like this.
I now have one nice little worksheet I can print off that shows my next three months of cash flows, my assets and liabilities, my available credit, and my short-term and long-term net worth. But when I look at my trackers from ten years ago they are nothing like what I now have.
(I think I missed my calling as some sort of data nerd. But, oh well.)
So anyway, that’s what Excel for Budgeting is. It walks through how to create this workbook for tracking your finances. It’s what I use and (knock wood) I’ve somehow managed to stumble along for close to a decade now with uncertain income and making extreme life choices. I do think you should know Excel before you try to use it, but there are step-by-step instructions in there for how to create everything if you want to give it a try anyway.
(And, as a weird added bonus, if you’re like I once was and split time between two countries so have to deal with payments in multiple currencies, I covered that, too. Because, why not?)
Now maybe I’ll be turning to writing some fiction. Maybe. As long as I don’t walk my dog or check my emails before I start the next project.