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How I Organized My Chaos, and How You Can Too!
I admit it. I am anal. Obsessively anal. I need my world to be neat and orderly, just so, and when it’s not, I’m just not right. So it should come as no surprise that I require checklists, and checklists for my checklists, and addendum’s and amendments to those checklists, and—well, you get the picture.
But despite being an admitted control freak, I was never that organized. I tended to have scattered pages of “memos to self,” and post-it notes that multiplied as my life got more complex. I aimed to spend a set amount each month, but I kept my receipts in a shoe box and just sort of guesstimated how much I could spend at any given moment to stay within budget.
Needless to say, this was not the most reliable method of managing my finances. I always told myself that I had a “system” of organized chaos that worked for me, but in my heart of hearts, I knew it wasn’t working. I craved simplicity.
My solution: Go paperless. In all aspects of my life, from A to Z. In the effort to go completely paper-free, I began to create spreadsheets for virtually every list-able life scenario. Although I had previously relied on pen and paper to make my lists, I’ve always been an Excel nerd, so the idea of creating spreadsheets wasn’t a major leap for me. Ultimately, it turned into a bit of an obsession, and, voila, Savvy Spreadsheets was born. It has been a lifesaver for me, and I hope you will find it useful too.
What is Savvy Spreadsheets?
Savvy Spreadsheets has spreadsheet templates to help manage the events of your day-to-day life. There are interactive daily and weekly planners with schedules and to-do lists, so you can check off each task upon completion. There are monthly and yearly calendars that allow you to easily (and paperlessly!!!) keep track of your agenda for the entire year. There are conveniently categorized household and grocery shopping lists, as well as a master “Cheery Checklist,” great for list lovers like me.
The Cheery Checklist allows you to create up to five of your own customized lists (shopping, to-do, Christmas, etc.) all in one place for easy access and complete control. All of these spreadsheets (and more!) come equipped with step-by-step instructions that make them fully accessible to even the Excel novice.
Added bonus—some of the basic spreadsheets (without macros) are accessible from the Excel app in your iPhone or iPad. This makes them extremely convenient to use—anywhere and anytime. I use the Grocery Shopping List with my iPhone, so I never have to worry about forgetting something when I’m out food shopping.
Though all the spreadsheets have helped me immensely, the budget spreadsheets brought complete order to my world (and my wallet!). We offer the simplified Super Starter Budget for free. Here’s how it works:
Set Your Budget Goals
Enter Your Expenses
As they occur, simply enter each expense for the month into the spreadsheet. Next, classify each expense according to your categories. (I have found this to be much more reliable than the shoebox method of accounting.)
Easily Monitor Your Monthly Spending
After entering your data on the first two sheets, the final sheet in the Super Starter Budget seamlessly allows you to view everything you need to know about your monthly spending. You can see, at a glance, whether you met your budgetary goals, or whether you’re “in the red” and need to adjust your spending in the future.
The Super Basic Budget goes even further, allowing you to compare and keep track of your budget for the entire year, and the Super Deluxe Budget’s more detailed design is perfect for those with more complex budgeting needs. Both the Starter and Basic budgets are designed for the number-phobic–people for whom “budget” is a four-letter word. They are that easy to use.
Although I personally use the spreadsheets in my quest for absolute paperless-ness, the calendar, planner, and list spreadsheets also make great printables. If you prefer the comfort of a piece of paper in your hand, you can easily print out blank copies of each of the spreadsheets and fill them out as you go about your day—whatever works best for you. Bottom line, I have found the spreadsheets to be invaluable. They have made me twice as productive and so much more responsible. My savings account sure thanks me!
How do you keep your finances in order?
Janet received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from UC Berkeley. She started her career as a financial consultant in San Francisco, but eventually moved to New York to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She is currently a planning manager for a luxury fashion brand. Janet built her Excel skills throughout every step of her career, and she now has over 10 years of experience working with Excel.