I’m a massive advocate of personal responsibility and accountability, in all things, especially when it comes to health and finances. But I didn’t always use to be this way.
After graduating with 2 degrees I didn’t want to do and entering the job market out of necessity rather than choice, I ended up keeping up with the Joneses whilst drowning my misery in distractions. This lead to me maxing out my credit cards, and taking consolidation loans, multiple times whilst also permanently living out of my overdraft.
Eventually, I’d amassed a debt of roughly £14,000 across my credit cards, my overdraft and loans, and was paying off around £400pm just on the interest.
- Taking Financial Responsibility
- Saving To Leave The UK
- Statement Of Wealth
- The Secret
- Using Google Sheets
- Start Today
Taking Financial Responsibility
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.Peter Ducker
In 2009 I started using a personal trainer at the gym and we were tracking all of my macros in my diet as well as the exercises and weights I was doing at the gym, I was losing weight and feeling great. Measuring and tracking had created an environment of accountability and responsibility towards my health, so I wondered what would happen if I started doing a similar thing for my finances.
Using the free Google Spreadsheet tool I created a finance tracking system where I accounted for all my income, all my outgoings, and all my debt repayments and by October 2010, after having crushing debt hanging over my head for nearly 9 years, I paid off all £14,000 in debt and became debt-free for the first time in my adult life. It was an amazing feeling. The original spreadsheet from 2010 is attached below!
After the success of paying off all my debts, I had discovered newfound freedom. Before things like saving for a mortgage or pension seemed out of my reach and genuinely impossible, but now I had created a method of being accountable and responsible for my finances. After clearing all my debts, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to move from the shared apartment I was living in and opted for a more expensive 1 bedroom apartment all for myself for the first time in my life. This caused my outgoings to increase, but also my ambition. I wanted to learn how to drive as well as save money. In much the same way I created the Debt Management spreadsheet in 2010, I created a Savings Management spreadsheet in 2012 to track my savings and stay out of debt. Below is the real spreadsheet I used from 2012 to track all my incomes, my outgoings, and ultimately my savings. I managed to grow my savings from £752 to £5,060 from March 2012 to December 2012, by being accountable, responsible, and mindful about my finances. Not only did I spend the entire year out of debt, for the first time in my life I had savings!
Saving To Leave The UK
Part of the reason I was wanting to save in 2012, and learn how to drive, was because I wanted to do the Mongol Rally whilst also build my own business. In 2013 I had started to make a small amount of money through my own work but decided to take a huge risk and start hiring contractors on ODesk (what is now called Upwork) which I used my credit card to pay for. So in February 2013 my Savings Management became once again Debt Management, only with a big difference. Multiple streams of income! 🚀 I applied exactly the same accountability and responsibility processes to create a new spreadsheet that tracked my outgoings, my income, get all my debts paid off and start saving again. Using this system my net worth went from -£4,588 to £16,499 from February 2013 to December 2013! This foundation of wealth was eventually the safety net that allowed me to quit my job, move to Thailand and start operating my own businesses full time, rather than working for other people! My original 2013 Debt Management spreadsheet is below.
Statement Of Wealth
Now my life is very different, and I’ve had a complete reframe. Rather than have multiple spreadsheets for debt management or savings management, I have a single spreadsheet as a Statement Of Wealth. I have wealth in a few different places and it needs to be tracked differently. This new spreadsheet is less of a micromanaged budget and more of a wealth tracker. Below is an example of my statement of wealth. Whilst all the previous data was 100% genuine, you do not need to concern yourselves with my current financial situation 😝
The philosophy behind my financial management spreadsheets and ultimately my statement of wealth are personal to me but hopefully will also work for you.
No One Cares About You As Much As You Do
In order to spend less I’d have to opt out of things. I’d go out on Fridays for 1-2 drinks then leave to be home by 10pm. This helped me stick to my budget but also my health and lifesyle choices as I was regularly training and eating healthily at the time. Whilst my friends would always complain that I was leaving early or encourage me to stay for just one more, there were never any negative repercussions once I’d pushed through the enevitable peer pressure.
I was tracking the food I ate, for my macros, this meant I had a predictable meal plan and food budget. All my bills were also largely predictable so it was easy to work out what my fixed costs were to sustain myself, i.e. rent, utilities, internet, food. After that anything extra could be allotted for either fun, debt repayment or savings. Once you have an idea of how much extra money you really have, you will find it can go a really long way.
I do all my monthly accountability on the 1st of each month, including setting up my journal for the month ahead and my Statement Of Wealth. This commitment to myself means that the work always gets done and tracked. You are the most important person in your life, you need to put yourself first in order to help others and you need to make time for yourself in order to maintain accountability, responsibility, strong boundaries and self-respect.
Multiple Bank Accounts
Most people have just one bank account, everything goes in to it and everything comes out of it. This makes it quite difficult to properly budget. I recommend opening multiple bank accounts. I really had 3.
Your Income Account is the account where all your income is received and utility bills and debts are paid out from.
Each month (or every two weeks for Americans) whenever you are paid, transfer an allotted amount of money into your Living Account. Your Living Account is the account you use to pay for your food and fun, using the money you have budgeted for such activities. Ideally, your Living Account will not have an overdraft or any facilities to get you back into debt. This is the only card you should carry with you. Leave the rest at home.
Once your rent, your bills, and your debt repayments have left your Income Account and your budget has been transferred to your Living Account, anything left in your Income Account should be moved to your Savings Account, leaving a balance of around £20 in your Income Account so that you make sure you do not go overdrawn.
Find New Ways To Have Fun
I would usually go out drinking or clubbing on a Friday or Saturday. It was a way to be social, meet girls and let some steam off. It would also be very expensive, bad for my health and that lifestyle wasn’t conducive to creating high-quality relationships. Instead of paying £40-100 on drinking and clubbing on a weekend, one of the clubs offered salsa lessons every Tuesday from 7-9 pm for about £6. This meant I could go out, dance with girls, and socialise for a fixed cost and make much better connections. Also, I would feel great at work the next day.
Instead of buying new computer games each month for £40 for my PS3, I would buy second-hand ones at CEX for £7 then once I completed them I would return them in part exchange for the next game. By sticking to a spending limit of £10 per game I was able to play 1-2 new games a month for about £5 a month due to the part exchange cycle!
Read. Libraries let you rent books for free and nowadays Amazon Prime lets you read books for a fixed monthly cost on the Kindle as well. Reading is mindful, relaxing and you get to learn a lot, expanding your skillset, your worldview, and your conscious outlook on life.
Living a healthy lifestyle can also be incredibly cheap and help keep you accountable. I used to go to the gym each morning, then skate to work, do meal planning and meal prep on weekends and spend evenings and afternoons in the park juggling with my circus friends. All of that was incredibly social, helped keep me in shape and would let me develop in new ways.
Using Google Sheets
You can enter all the data and calculations by hand into Google Sheets but it’s easier if you learn how formulas work so the spreadsheet can handle all the calculations for you. The formula in a spreadsheet all start with an = sign.
Referring to a cell in the same sheet
All cells have an ID which is a combination of column (alphabet) and Row (numerals). A cell of ID B4 would be the second column along the top, B, then 4 rows down from the top. If you wanted to refer to this column in another cell you could do with by specifying =B4.
You can do very simple maths simply by creating an equation using cell identifiers e.g. =B4+C4
Referring To A Cell In A Different Sheet
A Google Sheets spreadsheet can have multiple sheets in it, the tabs along the very bottom of the spreadsheet. In my example Statement Of Wealth, I have a summary sheet at the front which pulls in data from all the other sheets. You can do this simply by specifying the sheet identifier before the column and using an ! as a separator. e.g. =Crypto!B2 will pull data from cell B2 of the Crypto sheet.
If you want to convert one currency to another you can use multiply the column in question using the GOOGLEFINANCE function e.g. if cell B4 contains USD and you want to convert it into Euro you can use the following formula =B4*GOOGLEFINANCE(“CURRENCY:USDEUR”)
Statement Of Wealth Template
I have got an empty Statement Of Wealth template with some equations and formulas already in it that you can use as a basis for your own spreadsheet or you can look at the example again from earlier.
You might be tempted not to do this, or to do it when you next get paid. For all things involving the self there is no time like the present. You fell upon this page for a reason.