I’ve been known to color-code a spreadsheet, in my day. And while I only rely on spreadsheets for tracking invoices and my utility bills (I’m responsible for fronting the cost of our electricity and internet bills, calculating the amount each roommate owes, and making sure that I get paid accordingly).
Now, one of my roommates is in the final lap of his PhD dissertation, and the other is smack dab in the middle of pursuing his MBA. Legible, comprehensive spreadsheets (splashed with just a touch of organizational color!) are a central part of their daily endeavors in research, data analysis, and financial projections. Their mastery and enthusiasm has rubbed off on me (hence the lovingly-crafted utility bill spreadsheet). Though I don’t anticipate a future that revolves around logging all of my personal finances in meticulously categorized sheets, I find it extremely helpful to see how other folks go about designing the framework for such a detailed process of taking your money into your own hands.
That’s why appreciate, in particular, the first of J. Money’s personal finance picks this week, “How A Spreadsheet Changed My Life.” The interviewee explains that — while pursuing his MBA — the most important financial lesson he learned was that “you can only manage what you measure.” He implemented this corporate nugget of wisdom into a nuanced, dedicated, 12-tab spreadsheet that monitors his net worth, monthly budget, debts, and retirement savings goals (among many other things). The best part? He includes screenshots of each tab — though I certainly don’t have the same depth of financial responsibilities as the author (a family man with kids to support), his organizational framework will definitely influence the way I optimize my humble budgetary tracking in Mint!
1. How a Spreadsheet Changed My Life — Budgets Are Sexy
“This spreadsheet slowly evolved over the last six years. At first, it was just a budget template. Now, it is a massive workbook that has all of my updated critical information, and it’s extremely useful to me when making financial decisions.”
2. The Side Hustle Snowball — Side Hustle Nation
“You itemize out your expenses and then aim to come up with side hustle income to cover them, starting with the smallest expenses and working your way up. Once you reach the bottom of your list, you don’t need your side job anymore!”
3. 10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Decluttering — Pretend To Be Poor
“Minimalism promises less focus on material possessions, but the actual process of minimizing requires thinking about stuff more. I found myself absentmindedly thinking about whether I needed to keep a particular item when I should’ve been focused on other things.”
4. How to Access Retirement Funds Early — Mad Fientist
“If you don’t take advantage now, you’ll lose the opportunity forever. That’s why I take advantage of every single tax break I have available to me now, and I will worry about decreasing my taxes later, when I start the withdrawal process.”
5. 11 Ways to Simplify Your Financial Life — Becoming Minimalist
“I don’t know about you, but I have found that in my life, my finances are entirely too involved. And too often, I feel that they are controlling me.”
6. How I Traveled For 3 Weeks and Made Passive Income — I Will Teach You To Be Rich
“You don’t have to wait until you’re making $100,000, or $500,000, or $1,000,000 to do this. You can decide today. Take out three pieces of paper and break it down: Where do I think I’m spending my money? Where do I want to spend my money? Where am I actually spending my money? This simple exercise will shock you.”
7. When Did My Friends Get So Expensive? — The Resumé Gap
“We can’t afford to treat every day like a special occasion. Even if we could, we wouldn’t want to. ‘Specialness’ wears out pretty quickly when it’s an everyday experience.”
Image via Picjumbo