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Is anyone as anal as I am about money/budgeting etc?

(46 Posts)
IThinkTooMuch Fri 06-May-11 12:27:44

I have been keeping a spreadsheet of every single penny I spend ever since I was a single mum (nearly 8 years ago), divided into categories (leisure, groceries, luxury/necessary items/household items etc).
I put down EVERY SINGLE PENNY, seriously. I can create pie charts showing what i spend my money on, and how it's changed over the years.
Thankfully DP is doing the same ever since we moved in with each other (albeit not on a spreadsheet), so i don't irritate him with it!

Is anyone else like this? I can't imagine not being, but i suppose that's because we're so skint that it would be dangerous if we stopped doing it. Although it's become such a habit that if we suddenly won the lottery I think I'd carry on doing the same!

Chil1234 Fri 06-May-11 12:41:53

Yep!! I started my journey on the road to obsessive misership when exH walked out back in 1994 leaving me in dire financial straits - overdraft, mortgage payments, you name it, brr! As you say, when you're skint every penny counts. So I set up the software, logged all the expenses & budgeted down to the wire. After a relatively short time, things were back on an even keel and that was quite a satisfying achievement. I'm not skint any more, life's good, but I still keep up the MS Money files, balance my accounts monthly, do regular searches on comparison sites for bills, set myself targets for savings etc. I would also still do it if I won the lottery smile

IThinkTooMuch Fri 06-May-11 22:23:50

Oh good, not just me then! Looks like there might just be two of us though! wink

HecateQueenOfTheNight Fri 06-May-11 22:31:24

I have an 18 month cashflow forecast (excel).

Each month is on a sheet. each month is broken down into weeks. each week has 2 columns. estimated and actual.

expected money goes in top, then c/f from previous week is there (there's a formula I put in that carries surplus/deficit from previous week (and carries over from previous month on first week of each month)
then total.

then come regular expenses and subtotal

then come ad hoc expenses and subtotal

then grand total for that week
surplus / deficit for that week
surplus / deficit carried forward (so plus or minus the same for the previous week.

second column is the actual figures

then the next week is the same

etc etc

at the end of the month, there are the monthly totals, estimated and actual, then over/underspend from estimated figures for the month. then total monthly income and annual spend to date (month on month added up.) and annual income to date too.

Do I win? grin

TheSimpleLife Fri 06-May-11 23:48:48

Well I would love to have a spreadsheet like that, I've tried before to do it.....but like a diet, failed at about the second day.

However, I do look at our budget from time to time and check where we could make more savings and trim a little here and there.

I also do have a spreadsheet dating back to 1999 of our finances (but unfortunately not as detailed as yours). With 164 rows and up to column AC. It also has little graphs, with tangents and predictions.

Chil1234 Sat 07-May-11 07:31:26

I've always used MS Money in the past and it's free to download, but MS aren't developing it any more. On their website they recommend www.bundle.com but it's set up for America, which is a pity. However, www.confused.com say they're going to offer free personal finance software with Nugget. I'm going to sign up and see how that looks. smile I find once you've set the accounts, regular income and direct debits up, you just have to enter the day-to-day payments and the rest kind of manages itself. I guess I spend about 10-20 minutes a day, typically.

ZacharyQuack Sat 07-May-11 07:36:09

I've tried doing a spreadsheet but keep forgetting to update it. Now I use Xero (because we also use it for our business) and it gets the bank transactions every day and it's much easier to keep it up to date. It does get a bit scary to see how much I can fritter away on coffee and magazines though.

brightermornings Sat 07-May-11 10:01:54

I have just pulled my head out of the sand and started to watch where my money is going. At the moment I'm writing everything down it's really intereresting to see where it goes!! The software sounds really good this may be my next step. I'm not saving at the minute but I really want to.

raindroprhyme Sat 07-May-11 10:07:39

i am in love with hecate's spread sheet.

IThinkTooMuch Sat 07-May-11 11:02:35

Hecate -i don't know if you win, i don't do a 'forecast' like that, but maybe I should! I guess my income is the same every month, and i have only just this year begun taking into account christmas & birthday expenditure and started putting away regular cash each month to cover them, because they hit me by surprise every time! hmm

My spreadsheet consists of a 'Master' sheet (for a month) with all regular income & outgoings on it to leave with me an amount left over. It includes not only set DDs or standing orders, but also anything i can fairly accurately predict -what i spend per month on toileteries, or on bits & pieces for dd (her pocket money for example). There is also a table split into the categories i mentioned before, to fill in as i spend, with a cell at the top that (scarily) reduces as I enter my spendings on it so i can see how much i have left at any time. There's a similar master sheet for the joint account, which is less complicated because it only pays for rent, bills, child care , groceries. It does the calculations of how much dp & i need to put in each month to keep our leftover cash equal..

Each of those master sheets I copy over at the beginning of each month to start filling in as i spend.

I then also have an 'average' worksheet that has the totals figures added each month, that calculates the average expenditure in each category, so i can keep an eye on how much i'm overspending (or saving but that never happens!!) This is where i make my pie charts.

I've never looked at MS Money or any other software etc. i have a feeling there would always be something it doesn't do that i'd like it to...

HecateQueenOfTheNight Sat 07-May-11 11:17:52

Sounds good.

Only thing I would say is that knowing what you are spending and what you have spent is not enough.

You need to know what you will spend. Hence my 18 month forecast. I know what I am going to be spending on my food shopping for christmas 2012 (assuming the world hasn't ended wink ) I know what money I must have for nearly the next two years.

Now all that remains is to make sure I get it grin

Hassled Sat 07-May-11 11:21:01

I don't feel happy unless I know exactly what's in my bank account, but no, I'm not at the pie-chart stage. I do have a sort of cash-flow forecast thing, though.

But it took getting into hideous debt for me to get my act together. I'm never going back there, and the fact we're reasonably well off now hasn't made me relax about it one bit.

Starbear Sat 07-May-11 14:48:55

I want to make this my new hobby. I have always not worried about money but I'm not a big spender. Things are about to change in the Starbear Household and I've got to stop that attitude. I'm very dyslexic and put wrong numbers down out of the blue confused I would like to figure out a very simple spreadsheet that at least adds up correctly but don't want to give personal details out just to get a free download. Any way I'm going to start from Monday like my diets. I agree you need to forcast your spending in the future. As they really makes sense. It has only dawned on me in the last few days. As one month I'm flush and spend that extra moeny then I need a MOT! I have got lots of tips out of Prima this month and Money Matters website

Chil1234 Sat 07-May-11 15:09:14

The feature I particularly use on MS Money is the 'cashflow' function. If I set up all my regular income and DDs, budget for things like groceries, cashpoint withdrawals and set up a bill sequence for other regular payments like credit cards, TV licence etc., I can hit 'cashflow' and see how my account will look in 3 weeks, 2 months, 6 months. If the graph dips into the red it gives me the heads up to either shift some cash in from a savings account or try to spend less. Saves me £££s not going accidentally overdrawn.

coastgirl Sat 07-May-11 15:24:47

I keep a spreadsheet with two pages - the first page is a projected average spend/save for the whole year that gets revised as each month has passed, so I know how much we have in savings and how much we can potentially save in the future, and the second page is a detailed breakdown of each month's spending with a dummy column for regular expenditure, so I know how much is yet to go out on DD and I can move them across to project for the rest of the month, and a running average total spend on food and petrol so I can keep an eye on that. Means I always know what is left to go out of the joint account and whether we are likely to be over/under, depending on what unexpected expenses have occurred.

And it also meant I have been able to convince DH we can afford for me to take a full year's maternity leave as long as we started preparing financially as soon as I got the BFP!

I also have mini-spreadsheets to cost 'projects' so I know, for example, how much we have spent on baby stuff, how much the new deck cost to build...this is more for my own curiosity than anything else.

coastgirl Sat 07-May-11 15:27:52

Starbear, I started in Excel just by logging every transaction from my online banking. At the end of the month, I looked at what was a recurring, predictable expense (council tax, gas bill...) and what was a recurring, semi-predictable expense (food, petrol). That meant I could make an 'ideal' budget that was realistic, which I could use to project into the future and see how much was left for things like car tax/MOT, holidays, saving.

IThinkTooMuch Sat 07-May-11 19:25:55

Hecate-you are right, it has never been enough just to record everything I spend - i've always been very good at that and while I know I would have been spending a hell of a more if i hadn't been doing that, I'm still not very good at sticking to a budget strictly enough. I am getting better though, having got myself a piggy bank to pop cash into towards birthdays & christmas... still don't think i'm saving enough though!

coastgirl i like the idea of a separate sheet for the entire year, with the projected monthly spend that can be revised as the month passes. Might add that to mine!

Starbear Sat 07-May-11 20:54:29

Chil1234 What is MS Money 'cashflow' function? Where do you find this?
coastgirl I suppose I just have to give it a go and have some will power. Just spoken to my friend who moved out to Canada and just used her grocery shopping points to pay for her holiday. I think it's like Tesco points but I used Nectar and I don't think I can do that we Necter points can I?confused Oh! maybe I'll look into it. I'm going to do it now

Bumblequeen Sat 07-May-11 23:01:28

I am just as anal as you!

We have a formulated Excel spreadsheet listing all our outgoings. The figures automatically recalculate so no fear of information being incorrect.

At a glance we can see exactly how much money we have spare each month. It can be downright depressing to know there is only a £40 surplus after outgoings which means £20 each. This is not even enough for a night out! The consolation is we are working towards paying our debt off.

When I/dd/dh need an item of clothing/footwear we deduct the amount spent from our food budget. I buy clothes from supermarkets/H & M/Primark. Do not buy dd Clarks shoes at £35+ a go. Instead we buy several pairs from high street stores - always ensure they are soft.

Most days I go to work with absolutely no money in my purse and I commute over an hour. In the summer months it is difficult as sometimes I fancy an ice cream or a refreshing drink from M & S. We bring lunch to work everyday (usually stretch to a £2-3 lunch on pay day). I do not take a full hours lunch so it is easy for me to decline when colleagues ask if I want to pop out.

All debt bar mortgage should be paid off in 6 years.

Chil1234 Sun 08-May-11 08:08:12

@Starbear. If you fire up MS Money and look down the left-hand side of the starting page there is an option called 'Account List'. The second sub-heading after 'Account Register' is 'Cashflow'. In the Account Register, if you are looking at the transactions in a particular account, choose the 'Analyse Spending' option and select 'Projected cashflow'. Using the drop-down lists you can then check your likely balance for each account in turn. Using the second set of drop-down lists you can choose whether to predict your account balance to your next payslip, next 7 days, next 90 days etc., etc.

I find this the most useful function because, whilst I can see via my online bank account how much money I have deposited tday, what I really need to know is how much I'll have after DD's have been deducted on the 1st of the month, or the credit card payment on the 15th, or that cheque I wrote for a school trip that hasn't been cashed yet, or the TV licence payment that only comes out once a year... etc. It also helps me see if I will have spare cash left before my next payslip because that would be money I could put into savings.

WreckoftheHesperus Sun 08-May-11 08:26:04

I favour excel. I have an estimated monthly expenditure worksheet, which starts with income (salary, CB), and then lists all the outgoings I have every month (DDs, savings).

I also do a bank reconciliation, whereby I have another worksheet which starts with the balance in my current account at that moment in time, and then beneath it deducts the known regular and unrecurring expenditures that I know about at that time, to show me what cash I actually have available for spending, or need to transfer from my savings account.

I have separate worksheets detailing savings, and lots of different savings accounts for different items e.g. house maintenance, presents, car depreciation etc, and track where this should get us to over the next couple of years, in conjunction with estimating what the capital expenditure on the house will need to be, how much Xmas will cost etc

I then have a worksheet that tallies all of the savings accounts that we have, and deducts big known future expenses e.g. nursery fees, school fees, future tax bills, capex etc, so I can see what the core savings really are, and how much extra cash we can throw at paying off the mortgage early / increasing pension contributions.

All spare money / bonuses so far have always been thrown at the mortgage rather than expensive clothes / holidays / cars etc, and we will be mortgage-free by the end of the summer - hurrah - and will redirect saved mortgage monies into pension savings.

IThinkTooMuch Sun 08-May-11 10:32:32

Am loving reading all this, knowing that i'm not the only one! smile

Chil1234 Sun 08-May-11 10:44:03

My mother has always kept records of household finances. Way, way before the word spreadsheet was invented I remember seeing her poring over a big A3-size ruled ledger, manually entering details for 'School Dinner Money' and 'Electricity Bill'. smile Neither she nor my father ever earned fantastic wages but her ability to manage money to the wire and 'put a bit by' are an object lesson in thrift and they now have a very comfortable retirement!

Gonzo33 Tue 10-May-11 05:12:45

I have several spreadsheets interlinked which also cover out loans from previous partners etc. I also go down to the penny on them, but I feel much more in control this way (maybe a bit ocd)

Julierose Thu 12-May-11 16:04:10

Really interesting reading all this! I'm a single mother, 34 years old and am in a real pickle over finances at the moment. I earn a good salary, but am lately unable to cope. Increases are everywhere - gas and electricity is suddenly up from £70 to £160 - that's insane? Water - up from £25 to £35, food, petrol, you name it, it's doesn't end.

I've been complacent unable to save lately, and this month endured a massive unexpected financial crisis. Have never felt so stressed and anxious. As I write I have no idea where next week's grocery money is going to come from... So this morning I reworked my tear-stained budget (thanks for all the tips in this thread) and plan to stick to it religiously. Frightening how easy it can all spiral out of control. So very, very frightening.

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