Whenever I write about personal-finance programs, there’s always a large contingent of GRS readers who chime in to say they prefer the do-it-yourself method. Rather than go with pre-packaged money-management software like Quicken or Mint, they prefer to track their accounts with a home-brewed spreadsheet. (In fact, my wife is one of these folks, too.)
I’ve shared a variety of personal-finance spreadsheets in the past. Some of my favorites are produced by Jon Wittwer of Vertex42.com, a website that specializes in Excel templates, calendars, calculators, and spreadsheets. The Vertex42 debt snowball calculator, for example, is an outstanding tool for those who are working to pay off their debt. I’ve been singing the praises of this spreadsheet for almost two years now.
Wittwer dropped a line the other day to let me know he’s just released another spreadsheet on Vertex42 that might be of interest to Get Rich Slowly readers. Here’s how he describes his free money-management template:
Are you looking for free money-management software? It has long been my goal to create a simple, macro-free, money management spreadsheet that provides the same functionality as basic budgeting and money-management software. A simple spreadsheet will never do everything that dedicated software can do, but the new Vertex42 Money Management Template comes amazingly close.
This money-management spreadsheet includes five worksheets:
- A help worksheet that includes instructions for using the templates, including info on how to customize categories. These instructions are an awesome addition.
- A budget worksheet where you can specify how much you hope to earn and spend in a variety of categories.
- A transactions worksheet on which you record your day-to-day purchases.
- A monthly budget report worksheet where you can analyze your finances for any given month.
- A categories worksheet that lets you track income and expenses for the items you want. (For example, I’d need to add a “comic book” category if I were using this spreadsheet.)
Wittwer notes that using a spreadsheet for money management isn’t as foolproof as using pre-packaged software. As you tinker with the formulas (which you’re free to do), and as you enter data, you’re likely to accidentally introduce errors. So, be sure to double-check your work. (If you’re a spreadsheet whiz, you’re probably already used to watching for mistakes.)
The web page for this spreadsheet has some tips on how to use the template effectively, including instructions on how to customize the budget categories and how to record transactions. If you download this and use it, please be sure to submit your feedback — both good and ill — to Wittwer. This will help him improve the money-management template for future users!