Monthly Finance Checkup [5 minute Spreadsheet]

How I keep track of my finances without a budget, in 5 minutes per month.

20 second backstory

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.

Enter the spreadsheet

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.

Get the spreadsheet

How to use the spreadsheet

This 4 minute video explains how to use the spreadsheet. Or check out the instructions below.

One-time setup

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.

Select an update interval

2. Add the names of your various accounts

  • Transaction/checking and savings accounts Add your checking/transaction accounts
  • Savings allocations (this is what the money in your accounts should be used for) Add your savings allocations
  • Retirement accounts Add your retirement accounts

How to update each month

1. Add your Date Before Pay

  • E.g. if you received your paycheck on 31 Sep 2020, enter 30 Sep 2020.

2. Add your account balances on that date for transaction/checking/savings Add your retirement accounts

3. Update your Savings Allocations or copy from last month Add your retirement accounts

4. Add your retirement account balances as of your Date Before Pay Add your retirement accounts

That’s it!

  • 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

Advanced tips

  • Set yourself a calendar reminder to complete this spreadsheet.
  • Wrong date or currency format? In Google Sheets, go here to update: File → Spreadsheet Settings

Some gotchas

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.

Is it working for you?

Any questions, suggestions? Is it working for you? Let me know in the comments. Look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Matt SchultzSystemizing life 🌱


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