Times are tough – as they always are when it’s the topic of money. As such, financial experts and advisors tell people to create a budget and stick to it. Indeed, I hear a lot of people are tracking their money these days. One of the best ways people do this is by creating a spreadsheet. If you set it up right, the spreadsheet will show you all the money you have going in, going out, seeking to save, and more.
All there, in one neat place, your whole financial life can be seen and tracked. Sounds like a great idea on one hand, and, like most everything, it can also have a downside too.
Whenever I hear someone saying they are setting this up, it always sounds like a New Year’s Resolution – something to help break a bad pattern or to gain more control or to start a new leaf with money. It always seems to begin from the premise of improving one’s money circumstances. Something has gotten the person to feel that a spreadsheet will provide the solution needed to money ails.
On the surface, a spreadsheet tracking money can absolutely be something that is good and helpful in a person’s life. However, it is rarely the answer to stopping negative ways of interacting with money that reflects how we feel about ourselves. Instead, a spreadsheet can often act like a highlighter as to all that we do wrong, which can then lead into feeling bad about ourselves.
I would suggest asking yourself what is motivating you to track your money in such a concrete way? Is it to actually track your money or is it to highlight a part of yourself that you feel bad about already and this spreadsheet will serve as a tangible reminder of this “bad” part of you?
By asking yourself this question you can get a sense if tracking your money via spreadsheet is a healthy thing for you to undertake or is it just another tool to keep you tied to bad thoughts about yourself and others.
Be honest – as this may be the costliest decision of them all.