Household Finance Tracker » Instructions

Instructions for using the Household Finance Tracker spreadsheet.

⇒ Results

The Results tab displays calculations made using information provided in the Income & Taxes and Spending tabs. No user inputs are required on this page. Three types of results are provided:

  • Household profit and loss compares money coming in to money going out. Positive savings indicates a “profitable” household. Negative savings means the household incurred net losses (i.e. drew down existing savings or took on debt).
  • Key metrics includes a number of indicators useful for understanding and comparing overall household financial performance.
  • Spending summary provides totals for individual expenditure categories. The level of detail depends on the amount of information provided in the Spending tab.

⇒ Income & Taxes

Enter values in the green cells. Enter desired tax years in the first row. Allowable tax years are 2010 through 2018. The order does not matter. The Results and Spending tabs will match the tax years specified here.

You will need your completed federal and state tax returns, all W-2’s, and year-end pay stubs if anyone received non-wage benefits. Line items that are not applicable can be left blank or enter $0.

The location of some line items on federal tax returns changes over time. If there is any doubt about the correct value, view the notes associated with a line item for additional details.

⇒ Spending

Enter positive values in the green cells. There are two options for entering your spending: Option 1 (simplified) or Option 2 (detailed), depending on desired/feasible level of detail. View notes associated with line items for additional information.

If any of the Option 1 input cells are assigned values, the spreadsheet assumes use of the simplified approach (for that year) and ignores all detailed spending inputs.

If you provide inputs for Option 1, you can still enter values for the detailed (Option 2) spending categories for your own tracking/informational purposes; however, those inputs will not be used to calculate results.

The detailed spending categories follow a system we created that is consistent with “official” categories used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. I recommended sticking to this system if you can.

If desired, the detailed spending categories can be modified, added, or deleted. However, the end result must contain (at a minimum) “Education”, “Giving”, “Health care” and “Home equity” categories in Column A. You will have to override the popup warning to make edits.