Tracking finances with Excel
July 28, 2008 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I think I'm going to start tracking my finances using Excel, or maybe Google Docs. This will supplement my credit union's online banking; I've considered Mint, Wesabe, iBank, Moneydance, among others, but haven't been impressed. Info includes date, transaction description, amount, balance, category (withdrawal, deposit, etc.), tags (gas, groceries, etc.) My question: what are your best tips, tricks, and hints for doing this? Excel formulas, creating charts, formatting technique, automation. Anything in that vein would be great. Thanks in advance!
posted by jroybal to Work & Money (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
These other posts may be helpful.

You may want to consider You Need a Budget. They have an Excel-based version (not the "Pro" one) that does pretty much what you're looking to do (except category is more "type" and tag is named "category"). Right now, they don't support Google Docs because Docs doesn't yet include whatever functionality Excel has that makes You Need a Budget work. I am not sure how strong the reporting is, and the reporting is a little weak in the Pro version, but I know it is an area they are addressing.

I looked at everything, including all the stuff you looked at, plus Money, Quicken, Mvelopes, Google Docs, and PearBudget (created be a MeFite!, I tried the Excel version) before finding You Need a Budget.

I know I have mentioned them previously. I swear, I do not work for them, I just really really believe in the product, given the success I have had in using it.
posted by ml98tu at 9:10 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Moneydance is decent for what I use it for. And cheap.

But it doesn't have a pop-up calendar to enter dates for transactions. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be without that common, simple feature.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:14 AM on July 28, 2008

I use SimpleD Budget - a free, open source program. It has different categories as well as the ability to add tags, the price, the location, and the date. It has a very simple layout and is quite easy to use. I've been using it for a few months now and it's really helped me track my spending.
posted by amicamentis at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2008

I use excel and copy-paste my financial statements into BB-edit to get the columns correctly formatted then copy-paste that into Excel.

I then copy-paste each entry into its proper column on the spreadsheet (car, eating, groceries, stuff, media, telecom, recreation, other)
posted by yort at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2008

I dont know how long ago you looked into Mint, but I swear by it. Extremely awesome....and..its free...
There are too many features to list here, but its easily the most robust money management system out there. My company gave training on Mint based on all that it can do. I would seriously look back into mint, it does everything your asking for and far far more...and no, I am not affiliated with
posted by TeachTheDead at 9:47 AM on July 28, 2008

I have to 2nd ml98tu's recommendation of PearBudget!

My wife and I have been using the Excel Spreadsheet version for a little over a year and I can't think of anything - whether it's online, on paper, or otherwise - that is better. It holds us accountable for what we spend, makes it easy (and *nerd alert* exciting) to see how much we're saving/investing at the end of the month, and it does all this while being incredibly intuitive and simple to use. I recommend it to people all the time and always get very favorable reactions.

Go for it~!
posted by Detuned Radio at 12:52 PM on July 28, 2008

Check out the checkbook register spreadsheet from It's Your Money. This is a pre-defined Excel spreadsheet that is used to enter your checkbook items and keep track of your balance.

The basic version is free, but you will want to spend the $6.88 to register the updated version with macros to allow for sorting by date and other features.
posted by yclipse at 8:14 PM on July 28, 2008

I wish I would have known about all these free/cheap online things a few months ago. I've basically begun my fiscal diet, the same as you're talking about and it is immensely helpful. I created my own spreadsheet in excel for it, which is fine, but some of these dealies look easier. Mine does pretty much everything you're asking about, so if you want a template just send me a me-mail, I'd be happy to send one along. The good? Free and Excel. The bad? I did it for me, so it's personalised, but not necessarily in a bad way.
posted by indiebass at 9:12 PM on July 28, 2008

I use gnucash. It's free. It works.
posted by Lafe at 9:40 PM on July 28, 2008

Response by poster: Anyone using a spreadsheet?
posted by jroybal at 7:40 AM on July 29, 2008

You Need a Budget (spreadsheet version), the original PearBudget, yort's copy/paste option, indiebass' homegrown solution and yclipse's suggestion of the checkbook register spreadsheet from It's Your Money are all spreadsheet-based.

Since those are five spreadsheet ideas/options I don't understand your question - can you clarify?
posted by ml98tu at 9:05 AM on July 29, 2008

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