How I Track My Cash Flow

How I Track My Cash Flow

Ask me how much I spent on food in the month of March, because I can tell you very quickly.
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Your dollar is valuable. It's worth 100 cents, quite exactly. But you knew that. What you probably didn't know was that keeping spreadsheets for your personal finances can save you 15% or more off your typical day-to-day sorrow. It's true. When you have your financial transactions mapped out on Excel, you'll never again be able to say "Where in the world is all my money going?" Okay, I guess you could still say it, but you'd have a very neat way of figuring out the answer to your woeful question quickly.

I use thirteen Excel spreadsheets for every year, typically. Twelve of those spreadsheets cover a month each, while the last is a year-to-date doc updated monthly (unless I'm lazy and wait a few months before adding everything up).

My monthly .xlsx files are pretty simple to look at. Column A is labeled "Date." I type the numeral corresponding to the day of the month that any particular transaction is completed on in that transaction's row. To the right of that cell comes the category of income or expense for the transaction. In Column C comes the amount spent in U.S. dollars. Finally, a description follows in the fourth cell for each transaction, detailing in a few words what the transaction involved. In Column F, my categories are listed out so that they can be visually totaled in Column H. Between those columns is a column labeled "Budget," but I haven't used that column in a couple of years. If you have income and expenses with any sort of consistency, you could benefit from using such a column. Mine are so erratic that it became nearly pointless to try. I manually add my amounts from their transactions over to their Column H category totals, though using sum functions could be preferable for others, especially if you don't like adding in your head. At the bottom of my column of category sums, I do use the Auto-Sum button to add everything together. That row is marked "Net Gain/Loss." Excel will put your total in parentheses if it represents a Net Loss. Hopefully you won't encounter too many of those.

All of my spreadsheets for 2017 contain six income categories and sixteen expense categories. Over the years, I've refined the categories that I use, trying to make them specific enough that I can gain valuable knowledge from my spreadsheets while also keeping them from being so specific that they overcomplicate my system. Next year I'll be adding at least three new expense categories to my sheets, as I've found that too many transactions end up falling under Miscellaneous Expenses for my liking. What categories you use will be up to you. When considering your categories, try to think about what areas of financial loss or gain you'd like to be able to visualize most. If you feel like you spend 10% of your income on shoes but are reasonable with your spending on other forms of clothing and adornments, you could choose to have a specific category dedicated to shoes, to give one example. In any case, you'll want to have categories for Miscellaneous Income and Expenses. Just try not to throw everything in those.

As for my year-to-date spreadsheets, those give the best visualizations of my income and expenses. In the first columns, I manually add up each category's values from January through December. Below those totals, I use Auto-Sum to find a Net Loss/Gain, an Income total, and an Expenses total. Those let me see very quickly how much money I had come in and how much money I had come out in any given year. To the right of these columns, I build a grid in which my categories are bunched up into more overarching categories. I then use functions to find the percentage of income represented by those categories, the amount, and the percentage of my total expenses represented by my expense categories. When I'm in the midst of a year, I also have a column calculating what each category would project to if it increased at the same rate seen to date. To give an example, if I had an amount that was $200 and that amount represented January through March, my projected amount for the year would be four times that (so $800). When the year is over, I also make charts, especially pie charts, to help me look at my finances with a critical eye.

There are many legitimate ways in which to track your personal finances. This is my method, and I think it's a good method, but there are doubtless better ones out there. If you'd like an easy starting point, this method might be the one for you. All you need is Microsoft Excel to try it out. If you don't have Excel, you can still do the same bookkeeping for yourself, but you'd need graphing paper, and everyone hates graphing paper by the time they've graduated high school, right? I personally will stick with my virtual spreadsheets for now.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

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Ads Swarming Your Instagram and Facebook Feed? Banish Them Today

Instagram and Facebook are both owned by Facebook. Did you know that?
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Instagram and Facebook are both owned by Facebook. Did you know that? When you're on either site, you might notice that the same ads seem to follow you no matter where you go. In fact, you can go on a slew of sites, and you're likely to see the same ad time and time again.

It's not an accident that you're seeing these ads.

Targeted ads will use what you search as a way to know what ads to show you. It's an ingenious way to market, and if you're already searching for plumbers or movie tickets, there's a high chance of a relevant ad being clicked on.

Facebook introduced online interest-based advertising, and the company explains a few major points as to how these ads work:

  • If you visit a hotel site, the company will know and might display travel deals
  • Ads are displayed on people's use of other websites
  • Ads are displayed based on app usage

You're sort of being followed online. Someone, usually an ad company, is tracking your every search and visit in hopes of providing highly targeted ads to you.

But you can stop these ads from overtaking your feed on Instagram, Facebook and any other site you visit – to some extent.

Facebook Makes It Easy

Facebook actually makes it easy to opt out of internet-based ads. You can easily do this by:

  • Logging into Facebook
  • Visiting the ad center
  • Adjusting your settings

Click "ad settings," and choose to shut off ads based on websites and apps. Move through the list and toggle off ads for every option you prefer.

Opt Out Via YourAdChoices

YourAdChoices is an alliance followed by almost all major websites and companies that allows you to opt out of customizing your ads. This is a great option that allows you to opt out of customized ads across nearly 100 websites.

Instagram is not included, but Facebook and Twitter are included.

There are also a lot of advertising companies on the list that you can opt out of, which will lead to thousands of websites not being allowed to display customized ads to you.

Add-ons are an Option

Browser add-ons and apps on your phone can help you remove ads, too. The one issue with this option is that it doesn't allow your favorite sites to make ad revenue. A lack of ad revenue means that the site isn't getting paid for the service it offers.

Facebook, MSN or whichever websites you visit cost a lot of money to upkeep.

So, blocking all ads isn't something I choose to do. But if this is something you want to do, a few options that may help are:

Some sites can detect the usage of these add-ons, and they may not display content based on their usage. But this is a surefire way to stop seeing those pesky ads that keep popping up.

If you don't want a search you're conducting to appear as an ad later on, you can also choose to use "incognito mode" or another mode on your browser that will not keep cookies or sessions.

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If A Woman’s Success Intimidates You, Then Maybe You’re Not Ready For A Woman

Why you gotta be so insecure?
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Some men don't like women. I had to bring emphasis to the word "some" in case all men think I am about to refer to them. Refer to them in a way that is often overlooked, but should be addressed.

To start off, men are something else.

At first glance, you might get the look of someone who is wholesome, but then once you get to know him, he turns out to be crazy.

While on the other hand, you see a man who is more "street" and turns out to be the nicest person ever. You just never know what you get just by looking, as opposed to women.

In women, what you see is what you get-simple. I could go on and on about the different type of men in the world, but I want to really focus and dig into one specific type.

Insecure men.

There are some men who don't appreciate powerful women. I have read countless articles and watched interviews on some men who are starting to voice about the rise of women.

These men are truly adamant about how women should not be greater than they are. They don't believe that women should have even the slightest bit of power or success over them. Some of them think that their failing success is due to women and its false.

An interview by singer J.Holiday just caused me to question, "Does he really know what he's saying?" He actually had an interview saying things like Beyonce, SZA, and Cardi B are all selling records, winning awards, gaining success all because of pain.

First of all J. Holiday, who are you? Second of all, what gives you the slightest urge to speak on woman's success, black women at that. If anything you should be supportive that black women are becoming some of the most successful people in the world.

Another article I read about this topic was about a rapper named Cam'ron and his longtime girlfriend, JuJu. They were together for over ten years and she was with him throughout most of his career. Recently, they split after Cam'ron overall said that being with her wasn't fun anymore.

I mean...that doesn't make sense. Many people felt that once JuJu started getting degrees and making something for herself, that's when Cam'ron felt the need to call it quits. He started to notice that she was gaining success and evolving and realized that her name was about to be bigger than his.

I believe that some men do like when women are successful, as long as they aren't more successful than they are. These are where the insecurities come into play.

Some of these men should celebrate rather than hate. They like the idea of women and what they can bring physically, but as soon as the women are more mentally, socially, and economically higher up- then there's a problem.

When they see women trying or are achieving more than what they have, then they start to think that, that is going to prevent them from their goals.

But that isn't the case.

As men and women, especially in the black community, I feel that this should not be an issue at hand. If anything, we should try to encourage or uplift one another so that we can all achieve what we want to achieve.

Women should be able to be successful without someone downplaying her intelligence or thinking that she slept her way to where she got. Its okay for women to bossy, and having her life in check. We can have opinions, we are allowed to voice them.

And to some of these men that might feel like this is addressed to you, take a strong and successful woman and run with her.

Instead of being intimidated by her success, achieve with her. Whether as a friend or a partner, she might be the missing piece to further your success. You never know how much of the world you can conquer together instead of alone.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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