Even if you use software such as Quicken by Intuit or Microsoft Money, you might find it helpful to keep a separate income and expense tracking document. You can run reports in your money management program that show you how you're doing with your financial goals, but the act of hand-writing or keying in the figures in a separate document can help you see the big picture more easily. I use QuickBooks (the business version of Quicken) to record all my transactions and balance all of my accounts electronically, but I also use another spreadsheet to list all of the data I want to see together, not all of which has a place in QuickBooks where it can be entered. I've tried to create just the right custom report in QuickBooks to eliminate the need for this spreadsheet, but so far nothing has worked as well as my trusty Excel document.
You can create your spreadsheet by hand on graph paper, in a ledger book purchased from an office supply store, or on the computer using a database program such as Microsoft Excel or Access (or even a word-processing program that allows you to create tables, such as Microsoft Word). A database program has the capability to perform calculations for you a time-saving advantage if you know the program well enough to set the formulas.
You'll need list
- Either paper and a pen or pencil (for a hand-drawn spreadsheet) or software (Excel, another database program, or a word-processing program) for a computer-based spreadsheet.
- The receipts you collected in the previous section.
There are a few components your spreadsheet will need to have, no matter how you create it. These are
- An Income section and an Expenses section
- Categories for subdividing expenses, and also for income if you receive payments from more than one source
- Regularly recurring time increments, whether monthly, weekly, or quarterly
- Spaces for both anticipated and actual amounts
- Spaces for total income and total expenses by time period