Whether for a business or personal use people should track their expenses to understand where their money is being allocated. By tracking your expenses you will gain insight into how your resources are used and find ways to save money. In this blog post, we show you how to create a simple expense tracker and provide you with a template to get you going.
Choose the software that you’ll use
For personal finances, there are several apps such as Dollarbird, Goodbudget, and Fudget that get the job done. I personally like to use spreadsheets as they are more flexible than any off the shelf software. Spreadsheets are also more useful for business purposes as you can easily integrate them to manage multiple processes together (e.g., link your expense tracker to HR database for salary payments).
In this example, we’ll show you how to create your own do-it-yourself expense tracker in spreadsheets. For this exercise, I recommend Google Sheets as it is free (if you have a Gmail account) and you can access it from anywhere.
Create your expense categories
The best way for you to examine your expenses is by categorizing them. In any given month you can have hundreds or thousands (for a business) of payments. In order to visualize where you are spending your money, it is important to categorize them. Categories for personal expenses would be things like housing, transport, and utilities, whereas for a business they would be things like office expenses, salaries, and supplies. We recommend between 8 and 15 categories to give you sufficient visibility into your spending, while not overwhelming.
Create your expense input sheet
Once you’ve created your expense categories you can now begin to input your expenses. For your expense sheet you should include columns for categories (use data validation to create a pull-down menu), payment date, payment amount, and notes (for detailed info). With the structure set up, you can begin to input your expenses.
Create your summary tab
With your expenses input, you can begin to summarize them on one tab. Try using formulas like =SUMIFS() to sum all expenses in a given category over a given timeframe. From there you can create graphics to easily visualize where your money is being spent.
Use our template
We created a simple expense tracking template for you to begin using. Simply click the button below to install the system inside your Google Drive and start tracking your company expenses.