My passion for personal finance started 4 years ago when I was 16 after completing my O Level and waiting for Polytechnic to start. At that point in time, my only goal for personal finance is just to save as much money as possible from the allowance given by my parents.
Saving at least 50% of my monthly allowance has been my target ever since I started this journey and I have been trying to keep within my limit without doing any specific budgeting like how much I should spend on food, entertainment etc. I am satisfied so long I have reached my target of saving 50% each month and to be frank, the bulk of my growth in my net worth actually comes from savings instead of capital appreciation from investment.
In this article, I will be sharing with readers the tools I use to manage my finances and hopefully this will inspire you to better manage your finances.
Budget and Expense Tracker App
I did not use any budgeting and expense tracker app prior to enlisting. The reason why I did not use such an app prior to enlistment is that I have the discipline to save at least 50% of my monthly allowance and I have been able to spend within limits so I do not need reminders that I have to spend less next month, for instance.
I only started tracking my transactions since enlistment, not because I lost the discipline but I want to track how much I can save in 2 years. There’s many such apps out there in the market, which includes Seedly app. I like the fact that with Seedly app, you can sync bank accounts with them but ever since they disabled the sync function for Standard Chartered and DBS, I have stopped using it for the purpose of tracking my cash flow for accounts from the above mentioned banks. So, I opt for Spendee and I really like the clean user interface experience.
I am using the free version of Spendee and it only supports one wallet which I have named it as NS savings. The image above shows how much I have saved since I started tracking my expenses a few days prior to my enlistment. The report generated by Spendee is clean, simple and easy to understand which I really like.
The next section of the report shows you a summary of the transactions. As seen above, it is split into two parts – Income and Expenses. In each part, the transaction is further categorised into sub categories. At one glance, I would know how much I have been spending on shopping or food and drink and this will enable myself to better manage my expenses in the future.
If you are keen in using Spendee as your tracking app, you may sign up an account which allows you to experience premium functions for a month. There are four main features of Spendee features which include bank account connection from banks such as DBS and Standard Chartered and automatic categorisation, unlimited number of wallets and budgets.
Instead of using spreadsheet to track your portfolio performance which can be tedious as you might not know how to use the financial functions of spreadsheet to track. You may consider StocksCafe, an online portfolio management tool specially developed for Singapore investors.
I mainly use StocksCafe to track and monitor my portfolio performance. To begin tracking my portfolio performance, I only need to insert transactions of stocks from supported exchanges such as Singapore Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange among other exchanges. The free version only supports 30 transactions so I recommend being friends of Stocks.Cafe (a paid version) which supports unlimited transactions and other benefits.
After adding all the transactions into your portfolio in Stocks.Cafe, in which you can import all your transactions using a given template, StocksCafe will churn out a report that looks similar to the images above. I believe the four metrics that are very difficult to replicate on a spreadsheet, if one were to manually track, will be Time-Weighted Returns, Monthly Volatility, Max Drawdown and XIRR. My experience using XIRR function on spreadsheets has been unpleasant, making my own portfolio tracking ineffective. This makes Stocks.Cafe a great alternative product, which I do not mind paying.
The one feature that I like about StocksCafe will be its ability to track my portfolio performance accurately. With Stocks.Cafe, I do not need to think of what metrics to use for tracking and I have a ready report to look at every day as it is updated daily. Furthermore, for those who like to receive updates through E-Mail, Stocks.Cafe has a feature where it will send updates of your portfolio performance daily or weekly.
There are other reasons why you should use StocksCafe but the above sharing is the main reason why I use it in the place. I believe that it is only when you try StocksCafe yourself then can you know the full potential of how Stocks.Cafe can benefit and complement you in your investing journey.
You may sign up an account with my code so that you can enjoy the features of being a Friend of StocksCafe and test out all the features above for free for two months. I am sure that trying it out will change your portfolio tracking experience entirely.
After two months of trying out Friends of StocksCafe, you may like to continue by checking out the plans above. For myself, I would choose the 3 years plan as it is the cheapest per year compared to other plans. I would definitely continue supporting StocksCafe even after my plan expires as investing is a lifelong process and it does not stop after the plan expires.
If there is one thing that I will share with the community will be the online spreadsheet that I have been using to track my finances since 2017. The spreadsheet is something that I am proud of building from scratch as it combines the aspects of personal finance and investing into one spreadsheet.
I have created a separate spreadsheet for the purpose of sharing with the community. This project started in late July and this is the first time I am trying using Google Apps Script. For someone who has limited coding knowledge as I did not study IT in Poly, it is indeed challenging and trying to code. For the past weeks, I have been tirelessly testing out my scripts to ensure that it functions what I want it to be.
Calling all coders, if you wish to improve the spreadsheet, do contact me so that we can make this spreadsheet a better one that benefits the community!
This spreadsheet is only available on Google Spreadsheet. Please click on this link and make a copy for yourself so that you can have your own version.
As this spreadsheet is run with Google App Script, authorisation is required to ensure that the spreadsheet and the script can be run smoothly and efficiently. Click on Tool > Script Editor. The image below will show, click on Run and this window will pop up. Click on Review Permission.
This window will pop up, please click on “Advanced” (not shown) and click on “Go to Scripts for Finance Tracker (unsafe)”
After which, this window will appear. Please click on the allow button to use the script.
About Finance Tracker
Finance Tracker is a spreadsheet that integrates the aspects of Personal Finance with Investing in one single spreadsheet. With this spreadsheet, you will be able to perform the following, which includes Net Worth tracking, Cashflow Allocation, Monthly Cashflow Tracker and Portfolio. There are two colours that you need to take note. Cells shaded in Yellow means it is to be input by the user, while cells shaded in Orange is a protected cell. User should not input any value in the cell as it contains formula.
I have shared in my blog that it is very important to allocate monthly cash inflow into three broad categories – Savings, Expenses and Investment. We want our savings to grow and not overspend at the end of the day. You may have seen articles on the percentage you should allocate but I strongly believe that there is no one size fits all rule, so with this sheet, you have two options in deciding how much to allocate.
There are two methods used in this spreadsheet to allocate your cashflow. If you have not done your own allocation rule and do not know how much to allocate to your expenses, you may consider using this method under step 1. You have to input your average monthly cash inflow, average monthly expenses. This spreadsheet will calculate for you the allocation percentage. This will be reflected under Cashflow Allocation section as shown above. With that, you do not need to input the cashflow allocation for expenses under Step 2.
The second method is used when you have already thought about your cashflow allocation rule. You will need to input the data under Step 2. This will then be reflected under Cashflow Allocation. The status will show completed if the allocation for Savings, Expenses and Investment add up to 100%.
This sheet makes use of the allocation percentage set on the Control sheet to allocate cash inflow into Savings, Expenses and Investment. With the use of the formula, any outflow can be adjusted from the specific category (Expenses or Investment) accordingly.
You may refer to the example section. Users will allocate their current cash in their bank into Savings, Expenses and Investment as shown on the row named “Allocated money”. It is advisable to use the allocation percentage you set on the Control sheet for this purpose. Once done, you will be able to kickstart your tracking experience for future transactions.
Under the example section, there are three rows of transactions that you can consider. The first item will be Salary, this will be your cash inflow. When you input the amount of cash inflow under Salary, the spreadsheet will automatically calculate the allocation and adjust accordingly to the specific columns.
The second item will be Monthly Expenses, this will be your cash outflow. It is advisable to keep this spreadsheet as brief as possible, so it is recommended to get the overall monthly expenses from a tracking app, be it Seedly or Spendee and input in this row. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate and reduce the amount from the expenses column.
The third item will be Investment Outlay, I treat this as cash outflow even though this outflow will be an asset that you can track in this spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate and reduce the amount from the investment column. The investment column should be solely treated as warchest.
To add a new row, users can simply copy the existing row and change accordingly. Users should only change the cells shaded in Yellow.
Cashflow Tracker Data and Chart
My initial plan was to create a form for users to input data and this sheet will be hidden. However, due to my limited knowledge in coding, I was not able to code to allow users to update their data. Therefore, I decided to unhide this sheet so that users can input and edit the data on their own.
It is recommended to input this data at the end of each month and to use summarised data obtained from tracking apps such as Spendee or Seedly. As usual, users will only input data in cells shaded in Yellow.
In my 1 Year NSF Milestone article, I shared how I am using Free Cash Flow to track my savings in NS. In business terms, Free Cash Flow is calculated by deducting Capital Expenditures from Cash from Operations.
In personal finance, the Cash from Operations refers to the summation of Savings and Expenses while Capital Expenditures refer to the cash outflow for the month. When one has positive Free Cash Flow, this means that for a particular month, one is able to increase its money from Savings and Expenses. On the other hand, Overall Cashflow is calculated by deducting Total Outflow from Total Inflow.
The Update Data box performs two functions. This box can perform two functions – Insert Data and Update Data. It can only perform one function at each click. If at any point in time, users have inserted new data and updated existing data, it will first insert the new data. Do click on the box again so that the existing data can be updated. Do check out the charts shown below once the script is finished running.
Transaction, Portfolio and Currency
At the transaction sheet, users will only be required to input data in cells shaded in Yellow. Currently, this sheet only supports Buy, Sell and Dividend transactions. Please ensure that the naming of the stock is consistent in all sheets as it will be used as a reference to retrieve data.
At the portfolio sheet, users will only be required to input or amend the formula in cells shaded in Yellow. The first row is a sample and you may edit them accordingly. Please be consistent in naming the stock as this cell is used as a reference to retrieve data. For Stock Symbol, this sheet uses data from ShareInvestor. ShareInvestor supports stocks from SGX, Bursa, HKEx, SET, IDX, ASX, NYSE, NASDAQ, NYSE American. Do search the particular stock you have in your portfolio on ShareInvestor and take note of the stock symbol.
To add on, please copy the entire row and input data or amend the formula in cells shaded in Yellow only.
The limitation of this spreadsheet is that it does not automatically support converting foreign currency into local currency for foreign stocks. For the sake of compiling total net worth at Overview sheet, users will be allowed to amend the formula in column H, J, L, N and P. If users hold foreign stock that is supported by ShareInvestor, users have to convert the foreign currency into local currency. Users can use the Currency sheet for cell referencing, which is updated on open and on change. Please reference the respective cell highlighted in Yellow as these are the currencies that ShareInvestor supports for the purpose of retrieving data.
Currency, Stock Data and Share Price
When a user clicks on the Update Data box which can be found at the portfolio sheet, it will trigger a script that will perform a few functions. First, the script will update the data on Asset Allocation Data sheet, which is used for charting purposes. The script will copy and paste the name of the counter and the stock value. Second, the script will also update the data on the Share Price data sheet, which is used to retrieve data from ShareInvestor. The script will copy and paste the name of the counter and the stock symbol. A for loop will be used to run to retrieve the data from ShareInvestor.
For now, users will have to copy the cells highlighted in Yellow and paste it as a new row. Users will only need to amend the cell referencing of the particular stock in the portfolio.
Work is in progress to automate this by concatenating the formula in google script. If this is successful, Share Price and Stock Data sheet will be hidden and Users do not need to do anything as data will be reflected on the Portfolio.
The idea of sharing came to my mind in late July where I feel it is only right to share good resources that have benefited me and will surely benefit the community too!
Initially, I wanted to create a data entry form for both the Summarised Cashflow for charting purposes and Transactions. Populating the data from the form is easy but updating the existing data is the part where I was struggling for close to 2 weekends as the scripts did not do what I want.
Furthermore, in my initial plan, Share Price and Stock Data sheets are supposed to be hidden as they are run back-end to retrieve specific values for the purpose of our portfolio sheet. I believe that scripting can be done to concatenate strings but I am facing some errors which prevent me from achieving what I want. After much consideration, I have decided to keep both sheets unhidden so that users can manually amend the formulas.
I am delighted that the project is finally over after burning almost all my weekend for the past weeks, working on the scripting. Prior to this sharing, I did not use as much scripting as what I have in the current tracker as I use it to get an overview of my finances. With this updated version of the tracker, I will be making changes to my own tracker to integrate the scripting into it.
What I have learnt from working on this project is that when there is a will, there’s a way. I would have given up long ago after struggling making my codes work for 2 weeks. However, for the benefit of the community, I strive on to deliver what I envision my tracker will be in the end. For someone who does not have much coding knowledge, I think it is commendable to deliver about 80% of what I would like to achieve at the end of the day.
This spreadsheet is free and I hope that you can use this tracker to the fullest potential in achieving FIRE in the future. If you find this resource useful, you may donate to me by clicking on the box below.
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