I've got an addiction. An addiction that needs to be dealt with and some support group needs to be formed.
Here is my addiction…I love utilizing spreadsheets! I do! I love them so much that I spreadsheet everything in my life.
There. I did it. I admitted it. Step #1 on my way to recovery.
Ha! Really though I love spreadsheets. They help me to organize my thoughts and make calculated decisions on why I do certain things. It helps me to visually see the “if(X+Y+Z), then(do A)”. Am I the only one?
Call me a geek, but over the years as I added more and more spreadsheets to my Google drive, I've found it comforting. Comforting to have all my organized thoughts in one place. I know not everyone's mind operates like this, but I know that I'm not the only one that struggles with spreadsheet organization.
What do you do to organize your thoughts, finances, and life priorities?
For me, I have a number of categories that I spreadsheet. Here are just a few of the spreadsheets that I actively track on Google Drive and why I track them.
- Life goals – since 1999 I've used spreadsheets to track all my life goals from age 22 to 85. I got this idea from an investment broker I went in to interview, and he said this would be your #1 key to your success.
- Monthly and Yearly Goals – from seeing a Tim Ferris video on breaking down all of your larger goals into the smallest measurable task, these spreadsheet help me track % complete and estimated time to completion. Uber helpful in staying on target and focused.
- Budget – I think everyone uses spreadsheets to write out their budget. It is the simplest way to formulate your calculations and determine whether you'll be in the positive or negative.
- Retirement Projections – I'm about at the midway point of my working career. This time period can be one of not staying focused on keeping the course. I've recently used my net worth tracking spreadsheets to feed into retirement projection spreadsheets that help me compute withdrawal rates. Basically, if I have $X,XXX,XXX amount of income generating assets, then a 4% withdrawal rate would generate X amount of income per year.
- Taxes – every year before we go to visit my mother-in-law (who is a certified CPA), I lay out all of my income and deductions in one master spreadsheet. This helps me track deductions throughout the year and makes sure that I haven't forgotten anything.
- ThreeThriftyGuys Income – Aaron and I keep track of all of our income and expenses in one master spreadsheet each month, and have done this since 2010. I love it, because it helps me when tax season comes around and helps me know if we are making progress with making more/less income each year.
- Mortgage Payoff – after we backed out of buying a farmhouse in March 2016, we've focused all of our efforts on paying off. Since we went below the $60,000 left on our mortgage, I've started tracking our monthly progress and estimated time to payoff. This really helps us stay focused on paying off the last of our debts.
Private School Savings – each year we save up our boys' entire tuition and prepay it every August in order to save 3%. This tracking sheet helps me ensure that my passive income streams are on target to be able to have enough money to prepay the entire bill.
- Tax Lien Investments – when I invested in tax liens I'd use spreadsheets to help me compute which properties were worth investing in. If I didn't use these spreadsheets, then I could have been left with some real lemons.
- Running Race Splits – a lot of my best races have been won by how I technically prepare for them. I love writing out my mileage splits and calculating negative splits. This way I can ensure that my heart has enough time to flush lactic acid early on in the race, and reduce the amount of fatigue I feel near the end of the race.
- Vacation Accrual / Planning – every year I make a spreadsheet of each week and how much vacation I will accrue each month. As I get close to reach my max accrual, then it's critical that I track my vacation, so that I don't lose accruing vacation.
- Rental Home Investments – as I've continued to watch bigger pockets, I've utilized spreadsheets to help me to determine whether or not the investment is good or not. Since I haven't purchased an investment property yet, I've using this spreadsheet to practice in determining whether certain investments are good deals.
- Tracking Net Worth – each year on my birthday I collect all of my account balances, and put them into a spreadsheet. Over the last four years of doing this, I've seen a lot of progress year over year in my net worth. This also helps me project my future net worth, based on my historical returns, and estimate when I might be able to live off my passive income streams. It as been super motivating!
- Track Passive Income Streams – over the last 18 months I've blogged about my passive income streams. I've used spreadsheets to track how each income stream is doing.
- Determine on whether to buy a farm or not – last year when we were in the midst of buying a farmhouse, I used a spreadsheet to analyze if my house sells for X, and I purchase the house for Y, then my monthly mortgage would be Z. That same spreadsheet then allowed me to determine whether a 15, 20, or 30 year mortgage would be the most affordable.
These are just a few examples of how I'm using spreadsheets to organize my finances and thoughts about how to manipulate money to start working for me. I know that other people have other use for spreadsheets. I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below with how you are using spreadsheets to organize your life.
My dad uses spreadsheets to track everything! At first I though he’s nuts (we got our first computer in 1998, he lived without spreadsheets for so long!), but a few years ago I started using a spreadsheet to keep track of my weight loss (yup, went through a whole phase!). I then realized how helpful it is to have everything organized in 1 place and multiple tabs :D
To sketch a quick budget, I still use pen and paper. But for bigger things, yup, spreadsheets are it!
Ha! I thought I was the only one. If I had to assume, I’d think most guys think in terms of spreadsheets, because it gives us structure in laying out scenarios. After I wrote this article it has me thinking about other areas that I can make spreadsheets in to track.
Oh my gosh, there are two of you! Mr. Picky Pincher does this exact thing. Any time we’re on the fence about a purchase or life decision, he whips out the spreadsheets. I do like to poke fun at him, but it’s an awesome skill to have. It’s kept us from making bad financial decisions, too.