Friday, August 3, 2012

Am I doing this right??

I've been wondering lately if I'm going about financial planning the "best" way (and yes, I know best for some may not be best for me).  Even though I've been successfully paying off my debt and squirreling away some savings, I have this feeling like I'm not quite going about financial planning and management in a very efficient way.  So far I've been using one pretty simple spreadsheet to track incoming and outgoing funds which I set up to mimic a balanced check-book, another spreadsheet lays out the budget, and lastly a "quarterly" report spreadsheet where I log where I'm at at the end of each quarter.  None of the spreadsheets are complicated and so far they've done pretty well at giving me an idea of where I'm at on any given day.  

But these simple spreadsheets have some pretty major limitations which have lately been frustrating me to no end.  I feel like my financial life is a little too complicated lately for my spreadsheets to handle plus it takes for-ev-er for me to enter all the information and adjust all the figures.  I just don't have time to spend hours every week tracking money now that I'm working so many side jobs and, honestly, I'm just tired of constantly thinking of money and making tweeks to these spreadsheets.  It's great that I've made so much progress but I've got other aspects of my life to live outside of excel!

So why is my financial life so complicated?  Here's why:

I've got my main paycheck from my 9-5 job coming in every other week.  The way S and I have split our household costs has him owing me a check so that comes in at the beginning of the month. I currently sell my work on etsy and at two different galleries so I have funds coming in randomly from that, not to mention all the outgoing funds to run the etsy shop and buy supplies.  I am sewing side jobs pretty steadily now so have small amounts trickling in from that too.  And every once in a while I have a business expense from the 9-5 that has to get paid out of pocket then reimbursed.  Plus all the regular bills and the big ticket items that I can plan for in advance.

It seems like every time I set up a monthly budget it gets blown out of whack in the first week by some unknown expenses coming up or unexpected additional funds coming in.  And each time one of these unknowns comes up I have to go back to my spreadsheets and adjust everything, I spend so much time looking at these darn spreadsheets that I feel like I'm becoming obsessed.  Surely there has to be some better way to handle this mess so that I can successfully pay off my debt and save without spending all of my spare time thinking about money!

I've seen that a couple other debt bloggers use to track and manage their cash flow so I'm going to check that out this weekend.... any other suggestions for handling money are welcome!  I need something simple, where I can track ALL incoming and outgoing easily, and doesn't take too long to manage. 

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