Our 2014 Finance-Tracking Workbook

posted by Andrea | 01/2/2014

finance-tracking-workbook

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m a HUGE advocate for financial stewardship — tracking our finances, budgeting, using our money wisely, eliminating all debt, etc. etc.

I will be very upfront and say that Dave and I are fortunate to live in an area with a relatively low cost of living, and to have had two incomes for our entire married live.

These two factors are obviously huge when it comes to being able to save more and spend less. However, since the day we were married, we’ve been VERY diligent in living well below our means, talking openly about our finances, putting as much of our income as we possibly can towards paying off our student loans and our mortgage, refusing to buy anything we can’t afford, and doing without many things we could easily afford.

We don’t do this to be boring, tight-wads, stingy, or super cheap. We still do plenty of (frugally) fun things — and I promise, we don’t hate our lives just because we choose to live well below our means. In fact, I’d say that we enjoy life MORE because we can occasionally do fun splurges every now and then without guilt or dreading our next credit card bill.

I fully realize that not everyone has the luxury of two incomes and living in a low-cost area; however, no matter where you sit financially, I think EVERYONE can benefit from being more knowledgeable and aware of where their money is going.

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For almost 10 years now, I’ve been using some form of this Finance-Tracking Workbook. I originally created an extremely simple version of it back in college, and have since added more categories, more worksheets, and more features to fit our finance-tracking needs.

It’s by-far my favorite financial tool, and has really helped me to monitor our finances over the years. I can see that we’re spending MORE on groceries, cell phones, and restaurants now than when we first got married. And I can see we’re spending LESS on travel, clothing, entertainment, and any sort of “subscriptions”.

All of that information is helpful for me when it’s time to set a budget — or if we feel like we’re blowing through our savings faster than we thought. I can simply look back at what we’ve actually spent (cold hard facts don’t lie) and see if we need to make any adjustments.

And because this Finance-Tracking Workbook has helped me to simplify and organize my finances for almost 10 years, I’m sharing it with you once again!

finance-tracking-workbook

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE 2014 FINANCE-TRACKING WORKBOOK BELOW:

  • Here is a link to it in Google Docs {a lot of the formatting is different here}

NOTE: The files will automatically download to your computer by clicking the link above. You will need Microsoft Excel (or similar program) on your computer to be able to use this worksheet — and you should save it in a convenient place (like your desktop) so you can easily update it on a daily/weekly basis.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Since I first started sharing this fully editable workbook with you back in January of 2011, I’ve gotten many of the same questions over and over again. So to hopefully save us both some time this year, I’m sharing my answers to some of those FAQ’s below :)

1. Can you customize or edit something on this workbook for me?

No, sorry. I’ve specifically provided you with the original Excel document so you should be able to do any edits or make any changes yourself — provided you understand how Excel works. Due to my time constrains, there is no way I could possibly have the time or energy to complete all the custom requests I get. Sorry!

2. Will this work with a Mac and PC?

It should, I’ve used this exact same form on two different Mac computers and 3 different PC computers with no issues whatsoever. I did create this year’s workbook on a Mac (using Microsoft Office Excel for Mac), but I tested it for compatibly on a PC with no issues.

I’m sorry if for some reason it does not work with your computer — but that probably has more to do with the version of Microsoft Office you’re using (or not using) versus the specific computer you’re using.

3. Can you teach me how to use this workbook?

Again, the answer is no. I simply do not have the time or energy to teach many different individuals how to use each specific feature of Excel. I’m sure there are Google tutorials explaining the ins and outs of using Excel.

If you’d like some general guidance as to how I use this specific workbook, you can read this post from 2011 or this post from 2013.

4. Can I make changes to this workbook?

Yes, please do! I’m giving you the original Excel file so you can customize it to your own personal needs. Feel free to change anything you’d like — as long as you’re only using it for your personal needs and not distributing it to others (see #8 below).

5. Does this file contain a virus?

Honestly? I get this question SOOOOO many times, you would not believe it!

No, this file does not contain a virus — I literally use this EXACT file on both of our computers on an almost daily basis, so there is no way I would create and use something with a virus. Not to mention, I would not share something with a virus on my website as that certainly wouldn’t be good for business.

If for some reason you think this file transferred a virus to your computer, I can guarantee you I know nothing about it. I can also strongly suggest that whatever virus you acquired most likely came from something else you were doing on the internet — not my super simple Excel workbook :)

6. But this isn’t a budget… how do I create a budget?

You’re right, this workbook is NOT a budget — it’s better than a budget in my opinion, and it’s the first thing you absolutely MUST do before creating a budget.

If you’ve never created a budget before, you have no way of knowing what numbers to plug into your budget. So by first tracking your income and expenses for 6 to 12 months, you’ll have a MUCH better idea of where your money is coming from and going to. Then you can use those numbers to set a more realistic budget that you’ll actually be able to stick to.

If I’m really honest, Dave and I are way past the point where we need to be tracking every single penny we spend, but this workbook is just so simple to use and I really enjoy seeing where our money is going each month. It’s an invaluable tool in our financial life — which is why I’ve been sharing it with you for the past 4 years!

7. So what budget do you use and how do you budget?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel super comfortable answering this question because I think budgets are really personal and totally depend on your family, your needs, your income, your area’s cost of living, etc. etc.

There is no way I could confidently give YOU specific budgeting numbers (or even percentages) because your own budget really just depends on your own priorities.

For example, Dave and I literally spent NOTHING ($0.00) on travel or entertainment in 2013 because those things aren’t super important to us. However, we did spend a little more in our “restaurant” category due to the fact that I hardly cooked at all the first 3 months of my pregnancy.

We also most likely spend a lot more in our “home” category since we’re constantly doing home and yard renovations. We also are putting lots of extra towards our mortgage every month to hopefully pay that off in the next couple of years — so our budget numbers would look completely different than most of yours.

If you’re looking specifically for a free budgeting download or printable, here is one from Life.YourWay.net. Also, here are a few more FREE budgeting resources from MoneySavingMom.com.

8. Can I share this workbook on Facebook or on my own Blog?

Yes… and no.

You may gladly share the LINK back to this post (http://andreadekker.com/2014-finance-tracking-workbook/) on your Facebook page or your blog, but you may NOT offer the free download directly from your Facebook page or blog.

I’m providing this workbook completely free based on the fact that users need to come to my blog and download it directly from me — increasing my page views and my advertising dollars (thus making it possible for me to keep offering all this information for free!)

Ok so I think that covers some of the main questions I get over and over and over again :)

I’m so excited to share this workbook with you again in 2014, and I REALLY hope you will benefit from it as much as we do.

Here are the links to download the workbook once again:

  • Here is a link to it in Google Docs {a lot of the formatting is different here}

Here’s to getting your finances back on track in 2014!

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26 comments

  1. Deni

    01/02/2014

    Thank you again, Andrea! This will be our 4th year using this wonderful, free tool and we love it. This workbook is included in our 2014 goals to stay on track, and we really appreciate the time you put into it and offering it for free. I look forward to your great simplifying posts for 2014. Happy New Year!!!

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  2. Jen

    01/02/2014

    Thank you!! I think this is most generous-and I appreciate it especially was SOOO MANY bloggers are just trying to make money on every little thing, not remembering that their readers are the only reason they can make ANY money in the first place. I don’t begrudge anyone that for a second-they should absolutely be rewarded for all their hard work. But I also think it’s nice to “throw the readers a bone” every once in a while. So thank you!

    And, as always, your answers to the questions make me giggle–and shake my head in disbelief! :-)

    Happy New Year!!

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  3. Melissa

    01/02/2014

    Thank you! I am so excited to try this. I am currently a huge nerd and use the old fashioned columnar paper that you use for accounting:) Yep that is me! Nerdy accountant! Thanks for the great tool!

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  4. Erin

    01/02/2014

    I almost spit out my coffee at #5. Thanks for sharing!

    We have been Dave Ramsey junkies for almost 3 years. I make a weekly budget/allocation of our money so that EVERY hard earned dollar has a name. It’s important to tell your money where to go or you’ll never know where it went!

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  5. Stacie Kaltz

    01/02/2014

    I just started doing this! I have remembered from last year when you placed it on your blog, however I was having a difficult time with it, since our first paycheck was in december and we had not been keeping track of expenses very well. So all year long I knew that at this time I wanted to start tracking everything from your financial tracker. I have been very diligent on placing everything that is spent or received financially. It really has given us a good idea of a person/s budget! Thanks so much! This is the year of saving! Last year was the year of spending! uhg!

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  6. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    01/02/2014

    Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Jen T

    01/02/2014

    Yay! Thank you!

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  8. Kelly

    01/02/2014

    Thank you so much for sharing this again this year. I started using this last year and edited your version slightly to make it work for our family. This has helped me so much to see where our money is going and areas that we need to improve in.

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  9. Organize 365

    01/02/2014

    I LOVE your system! I started using it a few months ago to track my blog income and expenses. I think it would be awesome of you shared more about how you systematize your blogging!

    ;)
    Lisa

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  10. Evelyn

    01/02/2014

    Can’t WAIT to try this! Thanks so much…

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  11. Dianna

    01/02/2014

    Thank you SO much for the very generous and timely tool. I was glancing through your post thinking this isn’t something I need – delete. But something made me look again and download the spreadsheet and I can tell I am absolutely going to love it. And accounting for my dollars actually fits right in with my New Year’s Plans.

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  12. Tammy Skipper (@Tammy_Skipper)

    01/02/2014

    Thank you so much for sharing this again this year…I am DETERMINED to use it faithfully this year (not just random months) :D I will be sharing a link back from my blog later this month too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Tammy! I appreciate it… and also, even tracking your finances for a few months is better than nothing. You’ll probably get at least a partial financial picture just from those few month :)

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  13. Elizabeth

    01/02/2014

    Thank you so much! I am excited to use this in 2014. Hoping that “seeing the numbers” will motivate more savings.

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  14. Erin Branscom

    01/03/2014

    This is great! Thanks for sharing it with everyone! :)

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  15. Lynn

    01/05/2014

    Andrea, thanks so much for sharing the financial workbook! This is EXACTLY what we needed to start tracking our money this year. Putting it to use right this moment… thank you again!! Happy New Year to you, Dave, Nora, & Little One!! :-)

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  16. Michelle

    01/06/2014

    Thank you so very much for this generous tool … and this year I’m actually using it!! lol.

    It will be a huge help to us in achieving our financial goals over the coming years.

    I’m finding it interesting how to think of income (selling things?) and expenses … definitely a worthwhile exercise!

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  17. Carolyn

    01/11/2014

    Hi Andrea,

    I have been following your blog (I am not normally a blogger) for a few months now and I am very impressed with you and your lovely family. It is refreshing to see such wholesomeness, insight and just good old common sense.

    I especially wanted to thank you for the financial tracker. It is an awesome gift! I have already put it to good use and I told my family where they could get theirs.

    Thank you again and keep up the good work,

    Carolyn

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  18. Jean

    01/12/2014

    Thank you so much! We’ve got ourselves into such a pickle with our finances the last few years thanks to my “head in the sand” technique so I’m so glad I’ve found this, going to start 2014 the way we mean to go forward, organised!

    Even though we don’t have enough money to give any away or make any investments, having those tabs there will be a good reminder to us that once our debts are under control we should be trying to be more charitable and make some savings!

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  19. Kiescha

    01/13/2014

    Thanks Andrea! I am loving this! Excited!! :)

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  20. Kara

    01/18/2014

    Maybe a rookie question: do you enter your gross or your net income into the worksheet?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you can do either — I’d say it makes the most sense to simply enter whatever money you’re actually taking home and putting in your bank account — but depending on the type of work you do, that could be gross or net. However, then if you need to pay monthly or quarterly taxes, you could enter that under the expenses.

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  21. To Save or Not To Save? | being the imperfect mom

    01/20/2014

    […] We still are not on a budget – I hate budgets no matter how much I need one, but we are on the track to developing one.  Andrea has provided a great place to start with her Finance-Tracking Workbook. […]

  22. E

    01/26/2014

    Silly question. I don’t see a Savings category on the spreadsheet. Am I missing it? I can certainly add in my own, but I was just curious about the rationale for leaving it out. You are way more logical than I, so I bet there’s a good reason.

    Thanks for sharing this resource. Like all the other commenters, we’ve found it really useful and was something that had never crossed our minds to do! Love your blog and look forward to reading it each day. :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    As I mentioned in the post, this is not a budget — so no, there is no place for you to track your savings. It’s simple a finance tracking workbook — or a place for you to track how much money you bring in and then how much you spend (and where you spend it)

    If you record everything correctly, your “overall surplus” should technically be what you ended up saving for that year.

    Hope this clears it up.

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