Tracking Personal Finance

Since pandemic COVID 19 has turned this world upside down, not only are we vulnerable to the virus, but we have also become vulnerable to our well being in the immediate future. People have lost jobs or have been reduced to lesser roles with lesser pay. With my future being uncertain, I immediately set up a system to track expenses and create a budget for the next 3 to 5 months.

*All numbers below are fictional

To track my daily expenses, I created these columns: Month, Date, Expense, Item, and Category. My spending is to be recorded everyday, and I could use this data to generate a summary on purchases, which is followed in the next step.

I record my daily spendings in this table. I could use this information to generate a summary.

Excel has a “Pivot Table Analysis” function┬áthat helps you summarize a large quantity of data. I found a very useful website to help me build a Pivot Table, which extracts my expenses from daily input and show me where I spend most of my money.

This is a game changer! Pivot Table Function gathers all my daily purchases and categorizes my spendings. In my fictional data, I’ve spent most of my money on Amazon, which is sort true.

Last, but not least, a Cash Budget spreadsheet allows me to see where I’d stand financially in the next few months. If you study my fictional cash budget closely, you’d see that I strive for consistent spending every month. At the end of every month, the “Excess Cash” will go to “Estimated Cash” at the beginning of every month, and be added with salary to help me budget for the month. With formulas built in, I could simply type in any number to predict my future in various scenarios. (And of course…I could quickly see the worst in matter of a second)

This is my Budget Sheet – with this, I could predict “okay”, “not bad”, “almost bad”, “ohhh shit” scenarios…kind of cool!

Creating a solid financial tracking system helps me stay calm. I have learned over the years that anxiety is built on my loss of control in any dire situation. I have also tried to only control what I can control, and adapt quickly to reality. My personal struggles have always been about managing expectations and being present. With COVID 19 lingering on my front lawn, I need to be present and focus on living purposefully.

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