A simple personal expense tracker


#1

I finally created a personal expense tracking spreadsheet that I might actually use.

The basic idea was a spreadsheet that I could stick my expenses in, you know, to see what was going on. And without really doing a lot, I can see the things that burn holes in my pocket the most frequently.

But then I got the idea to make the sheet give dynamic visual feedback about the numbers I was looking at. I added some conditional formatting to some cells with simple arithmetic functions. The actual work took like ten minutes, but the resulting sheet allows me set spending limits for broad expense categories and gives me visual feedback if I’m going over budget in any category. Changing the limit is as simple as overwriting one cell with the new number. So once your raise gets approved, you can responsibly reward yourself with a little more spending room without being afraid that your expenditure will rush to catch up to your income. Or you can contract your allowance to make room for that thing you really want to buy.

Of course the tracker is useless if you don’t actually track the expenses. Like every single kobo/shilling/cent/penny. That’s the part that I cannot quite automate yet even if I could code because the gatekeepers will not cooperate (more about that later). It all needs to go in there, as soon as possible, especially if you spend cash. For someone like me who’s hacked their life that it’s effectively 99.9 percent cashless, the transaction records might allow you put off entering the expenses for a while…but if you procrastinate for too long, it is certain to get messy. The spreadsheet template is free. But the discipline to use it is sold separately.

Whether you use a spreadsheet, or an abacus, tracking spending is not up there in the list of activities that people enjoy. The spreadsheet is functional, but I never said it would be fun. However, I get the sense that a lot of people are at least interested in the idea of getting some insight into their spending patterns, and I hope that this helps anyone who is motivated enough to actually use it.

In fact, because I like to overthink things (and this guy asked), I’m making the template “open source”. That means that anyone can make changes to the original template, and request for their changes to be merged with the latest iteration of the template for everyone’s benefit. I will use Google sheets to create a versioning system…I’ll simply make each newly merged version of approved template edits a new sheet in the worksheet and label it accordingly. That way, anyone can find and use the version that works best for them…okay, I’m really getting ahead of myself. Maybe no one will like it. Or maybe no one will like it enough to suggest/make improvements. And that’s okay. It’s yet another personal expense tracking spreadsheet template, no biggie.

I obviously need to stop talking. But before I do, I want to make a quick shoutout to the ones who could actually create a solution that allows people track their spending intuitively…Nigerian banks, una well done. You know you could do this in a heartbeat. Or at least create secure APIs to enable third parties to do it. But I’m now retired, and I don’t do rants anymore. Bless up.

Here’s the personal expense tracker template (read only, so you have to copy or download it). Let me know what you think. If you want to suggest/make improvements, suggest them on this thread or send me a message on Twitter.

:pray:


Kliqr: track your bills and finances
#2

Or, you can download the DollarBird app.


#3

You can always download a template from Excel and use that. or better still get an app.
Waste of time doing things like this from the scratch

Unless you are tracking Nigeria expenses lol


#4

Anyone heard of an app called Spendee?

That’s what I use to track my finances and its dope! But just like Banks’ spreadsheet, you have to be disciplined enough to constantly put down your spend, income etc to get any meaningful information.

But you get graphs, you can create wallets, budgets and it is all detailed with date, time, location etc.


#5

@lordbanks your desire for a better way to manage expenses was what also led me to start GoodWealth. The only challenge I had with using spreadsheets was the manual entry of all my transactions as and when they occur - I simply could not keep up. We solved that problem already with GoodWealth as it allows you to automatically capture all transactions from Nigerian banks as and when they occur.

Granted it is by no means perfect and we are still exploring the base technology, suffice to say that we have gone down a route where to my knowledge no one has successfully built technology around, but in the last 5 months since we launched we have made remarkably progress.

Here are just some:

  1. Stared with just 4 Nigerian banks but today a total of 10 banks available for users to pull their data from and these include all the top tier banks.
  2. Users used to only see their account balances but they can now see transaction records going back as far as 6 months in some cases
  3. And ofcourse users get that singular view of all their accounts from different banks

We want to do a lot more and have lined up a bunch of features along the lines of some of the things you described on the spreadsheet. I am open to any collaboration that will help make that possible.

p.s. for anyone curious enough to find out what the solution is visit www.goodwealth.com.ng

Best regards.


#6

heard you loud and clear sir - we are working on it @ www.goodwealth.com.ng


#7

Why be so negative?


#8

@lordbanks well done. It’s nice to see people go ahead to do stuff without waiting for developers. (speaking of which, I’ve been playing around with this idea :slight_smile:). Great one :thumbsup:


#9

Wait o! @lordbanks which bank are you using, that your no 1 expenses are bank charges?


#10

Lol not about negative, this is 2017 you don’t track expenses with excel spreadsheet because its manual entry think about making if you are making payment with Cards, Direct Debit, Standing Orders that automatically leave your account how to you capture that figure to know what you financial standing is


#11

I do quite a few bank transfers. Pay most of my bills that way.


#12

Unfortunately, that is being short-sighted. Sure, it’s 2017, but this is Nigeria. Most people do their transactions offline, tool today.

And, yes, there could be a more “elegant” solution than a spreadsheet, but I’m pretty sure @lordbanks knows that. He’s not building a product to place on ProductHunt; he just built something he could use.


#13

We take ourselves too seriously, lol.


#14

Yes I know that but even if they do many transactions offline an app can capture, analyse the data and process rather that you input.

Excel is pain that is my overall point. If this is something just for personal tracking at home yes use Excel but if its something to roll out like a service then forget Excel does not worth the time and stress

I hope he also considered using excel on mobile because then its even harder to use the spreadsheet.


#15

I guess you are missing what @Diakon was driving at. As difficult and tedious it might be to use Excel, it’s the best bet cuz Nigerian banks are not ready to help. Lord knows I would have loved an app like MINT but as our banks aren’t ready, we have to make do with what is available

When you do visit Nigeria, you will understand :smirk:


#16

Lol I know maybe I should look at developing a prototype for this to see if there is a problem to solve what do you think?


#18

Please do one more rant for the culture :pray::pray::pray:


#19

This is where things get interesting. Nobody tracks expenses because they enjoy tracking them. Transaction records aren’t interesting in and of themselves. It’s specific features, also know as use cases, that provide utility.

My spreadsheet has a very specific use case…I can see if I’m within budget or out of budget by just glancing at the sheet, because the visual cues are intuitive. If all the numbers are green, everything is awesome. If a number turns red, that’s definitely an alarm. I don’t need to look at rows and rows of transactions or do sums to figure that stuff out, because that function is already built in. As I type this, there’s another personal use case that’s coming to mind. I could turn my expense dashboard into a savings target dashboard…let’s say for a TV, by simply adding an extra cell with a percentage target computation function. So every time I spend money, that’s less money I can put toward the TV, and the instantaneous visual feedback checks my spending, because I’d prefer that the percentage counter towards achieving the TV stay on 40 percent and not slip to 38 percent because I suddenly felt like a cold smoothie.

Re collaboration, the spreadsheet is right there, bare for anyone to use, copy, steal. There’s no secret sauce. Of course I’ll keep iterating it to suit my personal purposes. I’m actually thinking of porting the sheet to Airtable, which has some interesting possibilities for automation and mobile friendliness.


#20

If you can get the banks to grant you access, then you are good to go else…


#21

Why can’t we have own Mobile Bank completely data driven