One of the easiest, most reliable tools for understanding your financial life is a simple bank account tracking spreadsheet.
Use the data from your tracking spreadsheet to create a budget, monitor your spending habits, understand cash flow and where your money goes, even collaborate with your spouse or financial planner.
At its most basic, your bank account spreadsheet should include columns to track:
- Each individual account transaction going back weeks, months, or even years
- The date of each transaction
- The amount of each transaction
- The category of each transaction (e.g., groceries, entertainment)
- The name of each account if you’re tracking more than one
- Your daily bank balance
Track multiple accounts in one spreadsheet
With one spreadsheet, you can easily track one, two, or even dozens of accounts. It’s easy to categorize transactions from multiple sources.
Use formulas to calculate totals
Getting your finances organized is just the start of what you can do with a spreadsheet. You can also easily use formulas to calculate totals, spending or bank balance averages, and more.
Here are tips for using budgeting formulas in Excel.
Use graphs, charts, and reports to visualize your spending and net worth
Both Google Sheets and Excel include powerful prebuilt graphs and charts that can summarize and show your financial trends. Especially when you’re using a simple spreadsheet, these are fairly easy to set up and customize.
Getting your transactions into your spreadsheets
There are a few different ways to get your bank and credit card transactions into your spreadsheets.
You’ll first have to log into your bank website. Then you can either cut and paste your transactions into your spreadsheet, or export a CSV file that you can then either import directly into your sheets or again cut and paste data. Some banks only export PDFs, which require an additional step before they can be imported.
You can read a complete guide to getting your financial data uploaded into Google Sheets right here.
Save time with automated bank transaction import
Some people prefer the manual approach, feeling it keeps them closely in touch with their transactions. Others find manual data entry prohibitively tedious, so their spreadsheets are always out of sync with their bank activity.
For people who prefer a faster, zero-data entry approach, Tiller Money automatically imports your daily spending, account balances, and other transactions from over 21,000 financial sources directly into Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.
Tiller Money has a free 30-day trial, so you can easily see if it might work for you.
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Start a free trial of Tiller Money and see why "89% say spreadsheets give them more control over how they track their finances" - Inc. Magazine, "The Science Behind Feeling In Control About Your Money"