For that matter, can you come up with a more boring post topic than “budgeting”? How can I possibly make that entertaining? Even the post image is dull.
I will point out two things: first, if you were expecting entertaining, that suggests you found some of my previous posts (almost) entertaining…thanks for that. Second, when did I ever say my posts would be entertaining?
Be that as it may, we’re going on a little budgeting adventure story, so hop off now, if you must, before you fall asleep at the wheel.
For those of you who are still here, strap in, it’s gonna be a wild ride!
(Nah, that’s just hyperbole. No one can make budgeting a wild ride.)
As most of you know by now, I’m a numbers guy. From way, way back. Single digits back. That led to “A” student in math, a career in accounting and finance and the ability to calculate sales tax and discounts in my head. Yeah, numbers nerd at your service.
So, it was no surprise that when numbers nerd met Microsoft Excel, it was like Romeo and Juliet…the version without all that hard to read Shakespearean thee’s and thou’s.
In every version of my home computers since that fateful pairing, I’ve always purchased the basic Office suite for my desktop. For you non-Windows peeps, that’s Excel, Word and usually one other (mostly PowerPoint, but sometimes Access).
Obviously, I use Word a ton, being a writer (or someone who poses at being one). But, by far, my use of Excel far outstrips any other software. I mean any…even games.
Now, I use it for all sorts of stuff (like my Halloween planograms), but we’re gathered here today to speak of budgets, so let me try to focus (at least for a little bit).
Being a numbers guy and a stock investments guy and, most importantly an unemployed guy (although, now I think it’s called “retired”), my money and my future are pretty important to me. They’re also, quite obviously, intimately intertwined.
So, using my over-muscled Excel skills, I’ve built an over-the-top retirement planner, mapping expense and income predictions, year by year, for the next…what is it now…48 years (to 105 years old).
Feeding that convoluted spreadsheet (I won’t go into how many times I’ve had to re-craft the dependent calculations to properly reflect all the possibilities I can imagine), is my annual budget.
Currently, it has 29 line items. One for income (basically selling stock) and the rest for expense. This is set up by month and the total is compared to the previous year.
I then create an “actual” spreadsheet. On this page, I record what I (wait for it) actually spend. Didn’t see that coming, did you? A budget is mostly useless if you don’t match it against what you actually spend.
Because I’m not a company, having to furnish operating information to department heads (I only have one head, though I often have many departments within it), I only have a variance on the YTD total. That’s enough to tell where I’m veering off path on my budget. Oh yeah, I also have a month total variance to see how good my predictions were.
Now, what has all this to do with anything, you may ask? Many of you probably do budgets and you’re now quite thankful you’re not nearly as anal as me about it.
The “answer” is merely this. For the first time I am budgeting without the line item “mortgage”. This is a truly cool thing, but it’s also messy.
Instead of one easy monthly number (no variance there!), I now have these weird things called property taxes and insurance. Nuisances, they be and so I’ve chosen to shorthand them. I’ve put them on the same line that used to be for mortgage.
I’m sure all of you are crying out at that horrific decision. Hmm. None of you? Not one of you? Er…is anyone still reading? Oh, that explains it.
So, to finish up, giant mutant frogs just ate my left big toe.
(Just a bonus for anyone still around)
Anyhoo, obviously, a fresh budget doesn’t truly become “set” until the year ends. Unlike my days in Corporate America, I can wait until I have all the data for the year before “calling it”.
And here’s the kicker, in case you haven’t gathered it yet – I really enjoy budgeting. I enjoy the process. I enjoy building the spreadsheet. And I enjoy the tracking all year long. I especially enjoy when I end the year better than expected (party!).
So, yeah, budgeting may not be your idea of a good time or an entertaining topic, but it sure works for me!
This ends our nerd post for the week. Thank you for your patience.