A Mixed Bag – A bit of everything under the sun

Archive for January 2010


The first step in taking charge of your finances is to make a budget. It gives you a clear idea of how much of you income is going where and what you need to cut down on. Only then can you think about saving money. Given that it is such a simple and important step, here is an excel template that makes it even easier.

This excel sheet was created by me based on another budgeting template available online the author of which is unfortunately not known.

Features of this budgeting spreadsheet:

Budgeting Template

1. Track your budget every month – There are 12 sheets for each month of the year and you can track the budget for the whole of 2010 in just one workbook. Also, it’s easier to refer to the previous months when you need to.

2. It is customizable – You can enter your checking account, savings account and credit card account names. You can add your own budget categories and their amounts.

3. Displays the amount budgeted and spent in each category – For every category you name and set a budget for, you can track your progress.

Click to enlarge

4. Summary graph of your spending – A graph in the summary page shows how your spending varies in each category every month

5. Shows your net worth – Once you enter all your accounts and their initial balances in the first month, the spreadsheet displays your net worth every month

6. Tracks your savings each month – Every dollar you enter as “Savings” in the category column is kept track of by the worksheet and is displayed at the top left corner of the page.

Click to enlarge

7. View all your account balances in one page – You don’t have to log into multiple accounts everyday. Once you have entered the initial balances, the spreadsheet automatically calculates the balances and you can see them all in one sweeping view.

8. Alerts you when you are exceeding your budget – A red box on that category immediately warns you that you are exceeding your budget allotted in this category.

Download this spreadsheet:

1. Download the spreadsheet in xlsx(Office 2007) format

OR

Download the spreadsheet in xls(Office 2003) format

How to use this spreadsheet:

Step 1: Use the categories given or add your own in the drop-down box.

You can do this using Data Validation. Also update it in the budget section.

Step 2: Add your own accounts in the Account Summary section. Also add them to the drop-down box

Step 3:. Update the initial balances. You need to do it only once. The spreadsheet will keep track of it for the rest of the months.

That’s it. You’re good to go. Start tracking your spending.

More cool features:

1. Enter the initial balances only once – Once you do it, for the rest of the year, the worksheet will work out your balances for you.

2. Change the budget amounts whenever you like – When you do, the rest of the months will reflect the changed budget.

3. There’s place to figure out your budget – There is one sheet dedicated to planning your budget where you can enter your income, see how much you need for paying bills, how much you can spend in other categories etc.

4. Formulas are protected from accidental changes– Just to prevent accidental clicking and changing of formulas, the sheets are protected. You can nevertheless type in the fields which require you to. If you however need to make some changes, you can always go to Review -> Unprotect Sheet and make them.

Hope this proves to be a useful tool. If there are any bugs or questions, please do let me know. I will address them immediately.

Other articles you might be interested in:

15 Simple tweaks to save money without sweat

Earn some pocket money in your free time

Other downloads you might be interested in:

Organize with a Master Grocery List and Weekly Menu planner

Relationship Appraisal


vegetables-mckaysavageI hate running to the grocery store in the middle of the week. It’s both a waste of time and money. Every time we go to a store, we buy at least a couple of items not originally in the plan. So for the most part, I try to hit the stores just once a month and maybe once in between for milk and other perishable items.

Last year I decided to follow a few steps to be more organized and also save money in the process.

Two of those were to make a monthly grocery list and a weekly menu.

I have been following these two rules quite consistently for over a year and two templates have helped me tremendously in this:

Since I shop for groceries only once a month, I have to make sure I don’t forget something that might be over in a month’s time. So i rummaged through the entire kitchen and conjured a list of all the items that I had. This is my Master Grocery List. All I have to do is go over the list and check the items I need. My husband and I love it now and can’t go shopping without it. Over the year, I improved upon the list and added a few other items that I seemed to use. Feel free to download it. Since I’m Indian and I’m vegetarian, the list is customized for my needs. However, you can edit it according to your requirements and print it out.

Download the Master Grocery List

I love going to the Farmer’s market to buy vegetables. They are so fresh, plus there’s a lot of variety. Yes, they are less expensive too. Initially we had no idea of how much to buy and we’d end up wasting a few by the end of the week. Also, we would buy the same set of vegetables all the time. So I started pouring some time into making a menu for the entire week before buying the vegetables. That way, both my problems were solved. Even now, there’s a dramatic difference in the food we eat when there’s a menu and when there isn’t. I visit the farmer’s market about once every 15 days, so my weekly menu planner is good for two weeks.

Download the Weekly Menu

I’d love your feedback on these two lists. Do let me know if you find them useful and if you think any other items need to be added.

Happy Organizing!


Make My Husband Exercise

Courtesy: Dr JimiGlide

Courtesy: Dr JimiGlide

I know, it sounds funny. All resolutions are about the self. And here I am, going easy on myself and making my husband exercise instead!

No, he is not overweight and fitness is not his problem. What he needs to do are arm exercises. This is a highly personal resolution.

Some background. He fractured his shoulder about 2 months ago and it took about 6 weeks for the bone to heal. Because of the restriction in movement, the muscles have become stiff and physiotherapy should bring back the range of motion. But the physical therapist cannot do it alone. We need to be exercising regularly at home too. Which is what we don’t.

Getting his arm movement back to normal is my priority now and that is why I decided to make this my resolution.

In keeping with the guidelines I posted in my previous entry about resolution making, here’s my plan to make this work.

Analyzing the reason behind failure –Thinking about why this hasn’t been working so far is important to find a workaround. In out case, we were not exercising simply because we forgot. It was new and not part of our daily routine. So it was easy to slip out of our mind.

Action Plan

1. One at a time – One resolution is the optimal number and I am going to concentrate on nothing but this. Since it’s the beginning of the year, my temporary enthusiasm will tempt me into trying many things at once. But by now, I know better. I will resist the temptation and focus on just this goal.

2. Choosing an indivisible goal – My ultimate goal is to make his left arm move just like the right arm. This is the most basic step for that to happen. And since the time frame is about a month or two, it is perfect to qualify for a resolution.

3. Making it fun – We have decided to play a ‘simulation game’ to make him exercise. I pretend to be the physical therapist and we work just like in the actual physical therapy session. The room has all the props we have resourcefully added with everything available at home. I have a timer for the exercises(my mobile) and an ice pack to relax the sore muscles afterwards. He needs to take an appointment just like the real one. I even have a log sheet where he needs to sign in and sign out. I also record the progress in the same form. He needs to make new appointments after each session and when he misses an appointment, I charge him a penalty. If I miss the appointment, he charges me a penalty.

You can download the exercise log sheet here. It is a basic log and can be used by anybody.

4. Making it convenient – He needs to be exercising twice a day and so the best times would be right before going to bed and right after getting up. That is why, ‘my setup’ is in the bedroom itself. And we came up with the appointments to get around the problem of forgetting. Each time when we decide a convenient time, we are going to set reminders and make ourselves available at that time.

5. Laying the groundwork – Before starting, we always need to pre-prepare so that we do not have unavailability of resources as an excuse. By simulating the physical therapy environment, I have made sure that all the necessary items are in the room when we need them. I also have printed the log sheet and filed it along with a pen and have it in an easily accessible place. So, the groundwork is laid. We only need to follow it from now.

What if we fail?

We do excpect to fail at this at times. But I think it is going to be minimal because of our ‘penalty’ system. Each time he misses an appointment, I will sleep on the couch and every time I miss it, he would be sleeping on the couch. Since we both do not want the other to be uncomfortable, we sure will try our best not to miss it.

So, this is my plan and I hope we follow it. Will post the updates to this entry.

All the best for yours too and have a happy New Year!