How I keep track of my finances without a budget, in 5 minutes per month.
I don’t like to budget. I’m lucky enough that if I overspend one month, I can make up for it the next month. Usually by spending less on food — skipping some overpriced low-carb snacks.
But without budgeting, how do I know if I need to spend a month eating less interesting food? I keep track of whether my total savings have increased in the last month by as much as I wanted.
I’ve created a simple spreadsheet just for this purpose and it tracks my financial status across multiple accounts. It takes about 5 minutes to complete per month. I’ve refined over the last few years and it’s worked really well, so I wanted to share it.
The spreadsheet tells me:
- How much I’m saving from each paycheck — if it’s low one month, I’ll make some changes
- How I’m progressing with my savings goals
- My total cash and retirement savings
This is part of my personal finance system I described in How I’m Upgrading My Future.
This 4 minute video explains how to use the spreadsheet. Or check out the instructions below.
1. Decide when to update the spreadsheet (your Update Interval)
- When paid biweekly (fortnightly), I update every second paycheck
- When paid monthly, I update every paycheck
I tie my updates to my paycheck, rather than the calendar month, because my paycheck is what my finances revolve around.
2. Add the names of your various accounts
1. Add your Date Before Pay
- E.g. if you received your paycheck on 31 Sep 2020, enter 30 Sep 2020.
- The Bonus Savings column tells you how much you’ve saved on top of your Savings Allocations
- The Increase columns tell you how much your Bonus Savings and Total Retirement savings have grown since the last Update Interval
- Set yourself a calendar reminder to complete this spreadsheet.
- Wrong date or currency format? In Google Sheets, go here to update: File → Spreadsheet Settings
This spreadsheet was designed with the following in mind:
- A single, regular source of income
- No paying with credit
If you owe money on credit, try adding it as a Savings Allocation column and let me know if it works.
Any questions, suggestions? Is it working for you? Let me know in the comments. Look forward to hearing from you 🙂