Budget=Key to more money
Using the Power of Google and Online
Tools to Get Your Money in Order
In this tutorial, I will show you how to set up your budget online using Google documents. You will also have the option to create a “debt avalanche” document to help you get out of debt quickly. Using the created Cardan templates, we will create a simple yet powerful budgeting/debt management system. I will show you how to get a handle on your money (as the title suggests) with style. Finally, I will show you the best online financial tools to help you get on track to financial freedom.
Google Documents Account
Before we get started, we need to make sure you have a Google documents account set up. It’s totally free and it is awesome. All you need to do is point your browser to docs.google.com to get started. If you already have Gmail set up, you don’t need to create an account. Just sign in and enable Google Docs.
Downloading the Budget Template
Once you have an account and are logged in, simply go to New>>From Template at the top left of the screen.
Now there are many budgeting tool templates on Google Docs, but I have created some that are truly unique. To find the templates, search for the word “Cardan”. You should get a few results: Cardan Budget and Cardan Avalanche.
Select Use This Template under Cardan Budget to download the budget template to your Google Docs account. It will then open up directly for you to start using.
Cardan Budget Overview
The budget spreadsheet has five main categories: Incoming, Outbound, Needs, Summary and Actions. The following explains these categories:
This is a category that you do not want to have full. It represents all expenses that are unnecessary debts (as in all of your debt). The outbound category is designed specifically to work with the Cardan Avalanche (see below) to get you out of debt as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, you are welcome to clear its contents and fill it as you wish if you don’t want to use the Avalanche.
These are all of your essential needs. You can populate it however you wish. As it comes, the top category “Giving” is set to pull 10% of the main income of the family unit. Savings can also be put into this category.
This column organizes your incoming vs. your outgoing expenses to make sure that you are on track for the month. Your remaining should really be $0.00 when you are finished with your budget.
This in an extra category that helps organize the money into various accounts (if there is more than one in your family unit), In this example, the husband and wife each get certain allotments of money at the beginning of the month for personal spending and other expenses. This is not included in the budget part but is an addition to the budgeting section.
Now you know how to set up your budget, but how do you keep track of your actual spending? If you notice there are two tabs at the bottom of the document: one that says “Budget” and one that says “Actuals”. The actuals is a copy of your budget with one extra column to track, you guessed it, the actual money that is going out and coming in.
To use the actual section, just type the value of what is really spent for each of the budgeted expenses. Your budgeted plan will rarely match your actuals exactly. The actuals section has tools to make sure you are still on track for the month.
The Cardan Avalanche
By far the greatest feature of this system is the integration of your monthly budget with the Avalanche calculations in the Cardan Avalanche template. If you haven’t already, go back to the New>>From Templates and get the Cardan Avalanche template (see above if you are unsure how to do this).
The debt avalanche is very similar to the popular debt snowball method of attacking your debt. The difference is that you pay your debts off highest interest first which saves you the most amount of money. Once you have clicked Use This Template, just type in your debts in any order.
Make sure you fill in the APR and minimum payments for each debt. Add in the date you would like to start the avalanche (meaning you will start paying extra the next month). Finally, fill in the extra amount you have to put towards your debt. Now attack!
Select the Payments tab at the bottom of the document. The Cardan Avalanche spreadsheet has already calculated exactly how much you need to pay to each of your creditors to minimize your losses from interest payments. It also shows you when you will be debt free!
Linking With The Cardan Budget
Now onto the most exciting part of these spreadsheets. You can link the avalanche payment schedule directly to your monthly budget. Best of all it is very easy. Here is what you need to do.
When you are in your avalanche document (that you have already filled out), look in the address bar of your web browser. It will have an address of the form:
- Highlight and copy that code right after the “key =” all the way to the & symbol. Also, look at the dates in the payment section of the avalanche. If you don’t see the “&” symbol, just copy the entire section after the “key =”. Lastly, note the date of each month (they are all the same). Those are the only two things you need. Almost done!
- Open up your Cardan Budget document. There is a section on the right of the Actions column called “Cardan Avalanche Key”. In the light green box beneath this, paste (Ctrl +V) the copied code.
- Lastly, type in the date for this budget (eg. 10/15/09 for an October 2009 budget). It is important to keep the day of this date the same as what was in the avalanche document. That is why we looked at the days of the month in the payment section.
Once those are completed, check your Outgoing section (in red). It should be populated with your Avalanche payments! Congratulations, you are set up.
The Best Online Tools
You wouldn’t believe how incredible some of the online tools are for keeping track of your money. The best has got to be Mint.com. Mint allows you to track all of your bank accounts, debts, loans, investments and whatever else in real time. It tells you your current balances, interest rates, due dates, and more on one page. It even keeps track of your actuals and categorizes your spending into “Groceries”, “Gas”, “Rent” and whatever other categories you want. Mint is the perfect supplement to your personal Google budget and avalanche. Secure, beautiful, convenient and completely free! It is absolutely a must if you are serious about getting a handle on your money.
Now I bet you are thinking “How could it get any easier to budget and track my spending?”. Think mobile. Along the same lines of Mint is PageOnce.com. Now this isn’t for everybody, but if you have a Blackberry, iphone, Android, or Windows mobile phone, you’ve got to get the Personal Assistant from PageOnce. This program keeps track of your finances, airline accounts and itineraries, mobile minutes and even your Netflix que! These guys have thought of everything. This program comes at a small price of around $10 but it is absolutely worth it.
Seriously, who writes checks any more? Most of our transactions are electronic debit or just cash. If you tend toward the electronic spending, PageOnce is like your little electronic checkbook that automatically writes your expenses down. Never before have we had so many tools to get us on track financially.
[Cardan, Rex. Setting Up a Budget Online With Style:Using the Power of Google and Online Tools to Get Your Money in Order [Internet]. Version 46. Knol. 2011 Mar 15. Available from: http://knol.google.com/k/rex-cardan/setting-up-a-budget-online-with-style/etyadm6r50ch/6.]