Just a short post today to announce the upload of my personal expense tracking spreadsheet. If you are considering tracking your expenses in the new year to gain a better understanding of where your money goes, or you want to abandon your pen and paper methods, I believe this tracker can help you. This spreadsheet takes a different approach to the one that John and Maria posted on their website (Refer to the comment section under my last article, Tracking your Expenses – The First Step to Budgeting). Instead of tracking individual items I have elected to track general categories. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and which one you use comes down to personal preference.
You will notice that there are just 13 expense categories in this spreadsheet. These categories are editable to suit your own needs but was limited to 13 on purpose when my wife and I created this spreadsheet to prevent it from being too cumbersome.
Excel File Mechanics
The file is divided into a series of tabs at the bottom. One for a budget, one for income, one for each month, and a reference tab at the very end. A short description of how each tab works is provided below.
This tool does contain a budget and it is found in this tab. The budget tab was the primary purpose of this excel file but we later abandoned it because we had no idea how much to allocate to each category. The budget tab tracks total expenses, wife and husband expenses, and joint expenses. Under the total expense table there is a number in the upper left hand corner that represents what month you are currently in. Updating this number updates the amount of money that is allocated to each expense category. A negative number in the total column indicates that you are overspending and a positive number indicates that you are underspending.
To use the budget feature simply enter in what you expect to spend each month and annually into the top table. Monthly expenses are the reoccurring expenses such as memberships, rent, or utility bills. Annual expenses are lump expenses that are not necessarily tied to a particular month but will be spent some time during the year – money allocated for a vacation or Christmas gifts for example.
The budget tab then breaks down and totals the expenses of each spender in the household by month and expense category. The spreadsheet is set up for three spenders. The third spender is currently an imaginary “Joint” spender. My wife and I have a joint account that we contribute directly to. This joint account handles common expenses such as vacations, mortgage payments, and groceries.
Pretty straight forward for this tab. Insert your income sources in the grey and light grey table near the bottom of the page. The income tab and subsequent tabs all have the same general format. At the top of the page there is a summary table that creates a running total. At the bottom of the page there is a table where individual entries are entered by the date, amount, expense category, and a quick note of what the expense was if needed.
Each month has it’s own expense tab. Similar to the income tab, the top of the sheet is a table to provide a summary of that month’s expenses, and the bottom of the sheet is where the individual entries are entered.
The reference tab contains the different names of the categories that are referenced in the spreadsheet. There are 13 expense categories, 3 income categories, and 3 spenders. Unfortunately I don’t know how to add more categories as my wife used fancier excel features like arrays and pivot tables. Instead of learning how to expand the table I am going to try to convince you that what is there is sufficient for tracking purposes. *ahem* Thirteen categories is more than enough to capture the majority of your yearly expenses. Always remember to allocate one category as “Miscellaneous” for those random purchases. You can change any category to another name if you like (Like wife to your actual partner’s name), just ensure you stay within the grey outline.
Start Your Tracking
The expense tracking spreadsheet excel file can be downloaded here. Experiment with it as much as you like. If you happen to delete a formula please come back and re-download the file. Merry Christmas everyone and have a happy New Year.
We made another budgeting tool that is specialised towards students. You can download our interactive student budget here.