Many people go through life wondering how they seem to never have enough money, complaining about how much debt they have, and getting upset at those who do have money.
While there may be a number of reasons for this, I’d argue one contributing factor for many people is that they are not tracking where their money is going. They just work, keep swiping their credit card, and hope they have enough money this time at the register.
But that’s a complete guessing game. Maybe over time, you will make more than you spend and have some savings, but maybe not.
To me, guessing at your personal financial situation is just plain irresponsible.
Money can be a great stressor in life. And so what do many people do: they ignore it. This coping mechanism only hurts them more in the long run.
So what’s the alternative?
Understanding your personal financial position at all times, and systematically working to improve it.
As Peter Drucker famously said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
There are a few key things I like to keep track of to manage my personal financial position.
- How Much Do I Spend vs. Save?
I like to track how much I am spending each month and if that is more or less than I make. By tracking how much we spend, we can see where the leakage is happening and make adjustments to help us work towards our savings goals (whatever those might be for you).
- Net Worth
How does my net worth change over time? Am I adding to it or subtracting from it?
- Am I Financially Free?
Does my income from investments surpass my living expenses? If so, I am financially free and do not need to work. If not, how much more do I need to get there?
I track these in a simple Google Sheet. I update the sheet once per week based on any changes that have happened and reflect on what could be adjusted. Over time, it’s not a guessing game, but rather a methodical march towards my financial goals.
If you want the template for the personal financial models I use myself, you can grab a copy below.