How I Track My Cash Flow
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# 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.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

## College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

### Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

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Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

## Get Organized

By now, instructors are posting their syllabi and laying out the direction of their respective courses. One of the most helpful things to do is invest in a day planner and write in all important due dates, test dates, and other relevant information so that everything is easily accessible in one spot. Alternatively, keeping a Google calendar updated with all of this information makes the calendar easily accessible from virtually anywhere with an internet connection on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Another way to ensure success is to make a list of all the supplies necessary for the start of the school year and hit the last minute back-to-school sales. As college students, we are always looking for ways to save: time, money, energy. Planning out the essentials for the coming year and doing some quick research to find the best deals makes starting the fall semester much easier. Most importantly, don’t be bashful; ask about discounts for college students. Sometimes, even the most unexpected things come at a less expensive price for college students.

## Get Healthy

No doubt much of the summer was spent partying, eating, and probably getting very little sleep. Now that school is back in session, it is time to get things in check once again. A healthy body fuels a healthy mind. Eating right and exercising regularly help manage stress, increase attention span and ability to focus, and overall leave the body feeling good. It is important schedule in time to exercise each week, as staying active increases blood flow to the brain, aiding in many of its functions including memory and information processing. It is also important to make sure to get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours per night is ideal for students, especially those taking a rigorous course load.

## Take Time For Yourself

Although school, work, and social events often crowd any college student’s schedule, it is important to designate a few hours of “me time” each week. Whether lying in bed reading a book or watching Netflix, or taking a dip in the pool or an afternoon trip to the beach, making time for yourself is important during the school year. It helps manage stress and prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed and never having time to relax. College life is all about planning, and if you take action, avoiding procrastination, and stay ahead of the game, the school year should be much more manageable.

Dating Apps

## We Met At A Bar

### Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.

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Anne Waldon

We met at a bar.

A place I had been once before.

I pushed the bittersweet memories back,

told them they could come out another day.

The contrast between this and the last

it was packed, and noisy,

trivia night was in full swing.

He made the comment, "We can stay if you want to,

but when I saw they were playing a game with electronic gadgets,

I knew this place was not for me."

Oh, the contrasts; becoming more vivid with each cheer.

I made the effort to salvage, the date, the night, the time.

"Coffee then?" just a few steps away.

At the coffee shop I stood back, pretending to miss the confusion.

Coffee, it should be simple enough, the menu was sparse

a gentle nudge, suggestion, for simple,

anything to take away the bewilderment.

Sputtering conversation grasping for connections, commonality

Comprehension…

Tales of youthful folly

resulting in a life of pain.

I knew, this was my sign, call it.

My life was already filled with pain,

from someone else's youthful mistake.

I understood what this would mean.

Was it fair to judge, on pain?

Fair to whom?

What of the contrast…

Either way, I walked away.

Sports

## The Mets And Me

### They may be the worst sometimes, but this baseball team has given me more than I could ask for.

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On September 3rd, 2001, a sea of children littered my home's navy-carpeted den to watch baseball during my dad's 40th birthday extravaganza. A baseball game flickered on the TV, and a red and blue bubble of a scoreboard sat in the bottom right corner of the screen. The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies were in a wild game at Veterans' Stadium. As I, a five-year-old boy with a jumble of curly blonde hair, sat in the back of the kid clump, I wondered which team I should root for. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I should root for the team that's winning (duh). But, as the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils maintaining a 7-5 lead, some magic occurred. The Mets put up five runs in one frame, stunning the Phillie fans in the room and winning the game 10-7.

That was my first experience with the Mets. To my five-year-old self, it was as thrilling as a roller coaster. That day I was introduced to my favorite baseball team. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the wild ride that is Mets fandom. From 2001 to 2006, the daily routine at home in Blue Bell, PA always included checking the Sports section of The New York Times, searching baseball scores for a Mets victory. It was just a regular part of my day and didn't seem like anything big, but right after my 10th birthday, things started to change.

In May of 2006, I was diagnosed with Chron's Disease. I spent seven miserable days in the hospital, with only PlayStation games and Sportscenter to keep me sane. On the 5th or 6th day, I was watching baseball highlights when it came up: a snippet of Carlos Beltran whacking a 16th inning walk-off home run into the New York night against the Phillies. All the stomachaches and blood draws of the past week faded, if only for a moment, as I watched Beltran belt that ball into the sky. In that instant, the Metsies made me happy, and their dominance and division championship in 2006 got me more excited than I'd been for anything in my life.

Sports tend to do that with me. They drive my brain like a truck into splashes of excitement and mountains of agony. The first mountain of agony popped out of my sports world about 5 months after my first stay at the hospital. The Mets had reached the National League Championship Series, and in Game 7, Carlos Beltran stepped back into the same batters' box where he smacked that May home run with a chance to send the Metsies to the World Series.

But the magic didn't happen that time. And history refused to repeat itself, as Beltran watched Strike 3 swoop by him, ending the Mets championship chances.

It was a ball. It had to be a ball. Even if it was a strike, how did Carlos not swing at that? There's no way that just happened.

Tears trickled down my face, and angry curses flew out of my mouth. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated, and I didn't even know it was about to get way worse.

In 2007, the Mets blew a seven-game division lead on the Phillies in the last two weeks of the season. Living in suburban Philadelphia, school the next day was hell. Every two years my Jewish middle school would celebrate Sukkot by going to Hershey Park. This year, every student had to wear red, and every kid wearing a Phillies shirt came up to me and just kinda laughed. After that, not even roller coasters and chocolate could cheer me up and knock down that mountain of agony.

From the next year on, the Mets drove me insane. After collapsing again in '08, the Mets consistently put up losing seasons into the next decade. It makes sense actually. Going through middle school and parts of high school were tough, and swirling that with my bumpy Chron's Disease didn't help.

But somehow, 2015 is looked a heck of a lot different.

The Mets are in first place in the N.L. East and they're finally fun again! While I was away at camp this summer, the Mets finally decided to make some big boy baseball moves, just like in 2015 they called up touted prospects and trading for Yoenis Cespedes, a monster hitter.

I think it actually makes sense that this is the year. After a challenging freshman year academically and socially, Year Two has rolled around beautifully, and I'm loving being a sophomore at Muhlenberg College. After a lonely single last year, I now have an awesome roommate. I'm taking classes that I really like and I think I might have discovered what my major is. My Chron's disease has been under control, I have a great group of friends. and for once, I have a great sense of where I'm going.

It's been fun, and once baseball season ends, I might be a little less happy with just basketball to watch.

But hopefully, I'll still be winning, just like the Mets.

Featured

## Which BTS Member You Are Based On Your Star Sign

### If you love BTS, I'm sure you relate to one or many of them in several ways. This star test will help you learn more about which member you are most connected to.

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Astrological signs tell a lot about a person. Do you ever wonder what your BTS bias star sign is? Is it the same as yours, or or are you more like one of the other amazing members? Take a look and find out what yours (and the members of Bangtan) says about you.

## Aquarius: Jung Hoseok (20 January-18 February)

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The aquarius sign relates to those that love to help others and fight for important causes. Hoseok is someone that is always there for the members and for ARMY. He is a warm and compassionate person by nature. Aquarius signs are able to be nonjudgemental, which Hobi has in stride. He sees the best in people, and is very forgiving. This sign also means people that are free spirits, who are very animated and easily happy. Jhope is one of the most charismatic members of BTS, he is always dancing and running around joyfully. If you share these characteristics, you are sure to be a wonderful friend that lives life positively!

## Virgo: Kim Namjoon (23 August-22 September)

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Virgo's are both very mature and a kid at heart at the same time. Joon is known to be a gentle guy who loves crabs, wearing PJ's, and dancing like no one is watching. He is also very thoughtful and intellectual. When you want to find encouragement and listen to someone that is understanding, Namjoon is the person to go to. If you are a Virgo, you are certainly smart, sweet, and kind.

## Libra: Park Jimin (23 September-22 October)

Amino Apps

Libra's are one of the kindest star signs. Like our Jiminie, they always try to bring peace and harmony to any situation. They want to make people smile and laugh. When someone they care about is struggling, they will be the first to comfort them. They are very warm and will brighten your day! If you are a Libra, you definitely have the most infectious smile and the best hugs.

## Capricorn: Kim Taehyung (22 December-19 January)

Amino Apps

Capricorns are some of the best people. They tend to be silly and have a great sense of humor, just like Tae does. He is always one that wants to goof around and make every situation fun! This sign is also mysterious, and can be hard to read. While Tae is often the life of the party, he can also be serious and hides a lot of himself. Capricorns have very unique minds, and are intelligent in different ways. Taehyung is always the most unique member in BTS. Finally, this sign can be quite emotional. Our TaeTae is not afraid to show his emotions and that is a very heartwarming quality. If you are a Capricorn, you are an amazing person with a lot of layers.

## Sagittarius: Kim Seokjin (22 November-21 December)

Pinterest

Sagittarius are extroverts who are very optimistic and enthusiastic at almost all times. ARMY knows our Jin is one of the funniest, most cheerful members of BTS. He is always telling his dad jokes and being Extra™. Jin finds his joy by making others laugh which is one of his most amazing qualities. If you are a Sagittarius, you are likely to be as hilarious and incredible as Kim Seokjin. You definitely make the world a better place!

## Pisces: Min Yoongi (19 February-20 March)

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Pisces are some of the most caring people you will ever meet. Like our Yoongi, they may have a sarcastic outer shell, but deep down they are very faithful and selfless. Pisces also love to sleep and don't always have much energy. Suga definitely fits this, as he loves to relax but finds his energy when he is with his members. Lastly, Pisces are very musical people. Min Yoongi is an amazing musician and that is one of his favorite things in the world. If you are a Pisces, you are a deeply generous and introspective person. Keep being you!

## Virgo (the other side of Virgo haha): Jeon Jungkook (23 August-22 September)

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Virgo's are types that are good at almost everything they do! That is a clear sign of our Jungkook. He is someone that excels at dancing, sports, and music. Virgo's are so supportive and kind, they are some of the best friends you will ever have. JK is always there for his big brothers, and gives so much love to ARMY. This sign is also a sign of faithfulness, and Jungkook is very loyal. His biggest worries are for when the other members are struggling. Virgo's are very selfless, just like Kookie. If you are a Virgo, you are surely a wonderful and hardworking person.

Relationships

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