Wherever you are in the World, be it New York City, New York or Mumbai, India, before technology made things easy and before the explosive use of online services, personal budgets if they were done at all, were largely done on computer spreadsheets, and by far the most popular choice was doing personal finance in excel.
Now that apps and technology have made so many things easier, accessible and convenient online, including managing budgets online, it’s time to reconsider if personal finance in excel has had its day, including all the variations of family budget worksheets, financial planning spreadsheets, or any other offerings of managing money in excel.
The Benefits Of Managing Personal Finance In Excel
The most obvious benefit is that calculations are done by a formula processor so that the mechanics of adding up and making calculations can be automated and easily repeated, pasted, and copied.
That much is obvious, and all sorts of elaborate versions of family budget worksheets in excel can be created by anyone who can write a basic formula. So ease of creation is a major benefit, even though cost of time is high in order to create the formulas, and format the financial spreadsheet as you build it.
Another benefit to managing a budget worksheet in excel is that it could be free, certainly it will be free if you invest the heavy hours to do it yourself. Given that creating family budgets is not exactly a fun day out in the first place, however, many people look for free family budget worksheets or spreadsheets.
These products are invariably created by someone else online and sold or given away free – fully formatted and formulaic.
The Problem with Managing Personal Finance In Excel
The problem with personal finance in excel though is exactly that – personal finance in excel!
It sits on a personal computer or laptop, and is not much use on a smartphone – no-one wants to sit squinting at a finance worksheet or spreadsheet on a phone. Also, the time it takes to personalise these standard financial worksheets in excel can be wasted with one little slip, an accidental delete, formula mismatch and everything clogs up and numbers and columns don’t match up.
It is incredibly hard to recover a corrupted formula unless you are professionally trained in excel.
Also, personal finance in excel is limited to basic calculations and can’t really be integrated easily to a wider range of financial budget decisions. Each personal finance worksheet created in excel is for single purpose, not multipurpose use. One obvious danger is localised loss of the PC, laptop, or attack from virus or malware – spyware and identity theft from an unsecure system.
One very real danger in downloading free financial excel spreadheets is that these are so often given away in promotions, as ways to harvest personal details, or include hidden shipping costs, or suck you into buying something much more expensive later.
You can never be sure if you have bought or loaded illegal pirate copies or OEM software. These localised personal finance spreadsheets might even contain malware, spyware or tracking cookies to steal your data – you just can’t tell.
The Explosive Benefits Of Personal Finance Online.
Managing money online has a lot of the benefits of finance in excel without any of the drawbacks.
In fact the only problem with it isn’t really a problem at all. It costs more than free – but comes with dedicated service, it never crashes, you can’t lose it, someone else has to maintain the connections, and a bunch of employed people are concentrating 100% on making it work and work well.
There are no install problems, hidden costs, or personalised mistakes. The best ones have encryption software to protect security, they make it really easy to use, access it and maintain it.
Financial budgeting online can even be fun, and money saving. Chose one which pays back a user dividend or uses your details anonymously with your permission to find you really cheap deals and money saving opportunities without spamming you to death.
Personally, I think personal finance online software is the only way to go, way better than personal finance in excel, which frankly is decades out of date and not at all convenient.
Think about it – If I’m going to invest time to create a family budget, a critical component of mastering money – why would I not want to gain some benefit through a finance online service which sourced cheaper prices on my behalf – why go and do all that searching myself, all over again?
Surely, conducting personal finance online is a no brainer?
Mark Donnan is A former CEO in Financial Services and the author of the personal finance books Negotiating Breathing Space with your Creditors, and Debt Management Secrets