Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm a Nerd

Alright.  I admit it.  I'm a nerd.  This is true for many reasons.  But, today I'm talking about my love of spreadsheets.  That's right, spreadsheets.

I often find myself creating elaborate, detailed spreadsheets for even the simplest of things.  Part of it might be my deep dislike for math.  Why figure it out myself when I can create a spreadsheet that will do it for me?  That makes sense, right?  Right?  Please tell me I'm not crazy!

I realized as I wrote about my budgeting process Tuesday that I made the whole thing seem pretty straightforward and simple.  And, it could be just that!  But, for some reason, I feel the need to both complicate and simplify this process with a spreadsheet.

It simplifies it by having a template already to go instead of having to create a budget completely from scratch every month.  It also does all the math for me (Did I mention I'm not a fan of math?) and all I have to do is enter the amounts and watch the difference between our income and our "outgo" slowly reach zero for our zero-based budget.

But, it complicates it because I actually had to create the spreadsheet in the first place.  And this isn't some add-the-column-for-the-total spreadsheet.  It is complicated.  It even has calculations that require using several different sheets.  Three different sheet to be exact.  "Monthly," "Daily," and "Irregular Income."

First, there is my Monthy Cash Flow Planner:

This is where I do the over-all monthly planning.  Here is where I figure out our income vs. outflow for the month.

On the right, you see places for both our regular, predictable income and our "extra," unpredictable income.  When I enter amounts in here, it automatically updates the summary at the top.  Then, as I enter expenses on the left, the field that says "AMOUNT REMAINING" in the summary will decrease until it eventually reaches zero.  When it does that, my monthly cash flow plan is complete. If you could scroll down the sheet, you would see that the columns on the left keep going for all of our possible expenses. 

Once that is complete, I have to figure out exactly how much money from each check is going toward each of our expenses.  Because bills are due at different times, different amounts need to come out of each check.  This is where my "Daily" sheet comes in (It is closer to weekly, but not exactly and that bothered me enough to label it "Daily" instead.  I told you I was a nerd):

The rows at the top that list the amount of money available from each check import automatically from my "Monthly" sheet.  Then, as I enter amounts for each expense, there is a row at the bottom that will show how much I have left until I eventually reach zero.   The amounts that I listed for expenses on the "Monthly" sheet also transfer over.  For example, let's say I entered $100 in the tithing category on the "Monthly" sheet.  Because I have not yet entered any money on the "Daily" sheet, the "Difference" column would show $100 and be orange to give me a warning that I still need to figure out which check that money is coming from.  If I enter $50 for tithing under the "Commission" column, the "Total" would then be $50 and the "Difference" would also be $50.  The "Difference" would still be orange because I still have $50 to enter to under a pay-period.  If I were to put too much money in the tithing category, the "Difference" cell would turn red to warn me that I went over budget.

This sheet is complicated, but the process is simple.  I enter the amounts and the sheet lets me know how much I still have to allocate to a pay-period.  It also warns me if I haven't allocated enough or if I've gone over-budget.

Finally, I have my "Irregular Income" sheet.  I explained the basics of how to budget for an irregular income yesterday.  Here is where I actually do it.

Once again, the amounts that I entered in the "Extra" unpredictable income area of my "Monthly" sheet automatically transfer over to this sheet.  Here, I can take that amount and plan where it will go.  The "Amount Remaining to be Distributed" column tells me how much money I have to use in my planning.  As I enter amounts into the columns, this will eventually reach zero.  I'm currently working on making this update automatically as "extra" money becomes available.  But, that is going to take some time to figure out the correct formulas.  I'm not sure why I find that fun when I hate math.  Go figure.

So, there you have it.  My simple, complicated system for planning my budget!  I promise you, though, it can also be done with paper, pencil, and a calculator.  I'm just a nerd.

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