Everyone has their OCDs (obsessive compulsive disorders) and one of mine is the need to document my life as much as possible. I do this in different ways like making at least a daily post on Facebook and saving them at regular intervals but the most notable thing that keeps my OCD going is my infamous Spreadsheet™. This most wonderful thing in my life started as a way to manage my budget when I started my first job after graduation in the States but since then it has grown arms, legs and even wings and has become the proudest "object" I own.
I've alluded to my Spreadsheet™ many times on this blog but I've never actually shown you how it looks like and the details it contains. If I were to tally the amount of time I've spent on it to date, it'd be in the realm of 3 straight months of 24 hours a day! But it's so worth it because it's a very in-depth documentation of not only my life but Ision's too to an extent. It's also a useful tool to track price changes on things, places we visited, what we ordered in restaurants and even how the food was. In this post I shall open this major part of my world to you by first offering a blurred (for obvious reasons) typical tab in my Spreadsheet™ which I've split into sections that I'll describe in further detail.
This is the heart of the file. Anything that involves money creates an entry with the dollar amount (currency conversion is built-in if it's not in Australian dollars) including inter-bank transfers. Notable events are also entered here as well as things like job application details. Every spending entry is categorised using numbers "1" to "9" so that amounts can be summed up in their individual categories e.g. "1" is for transport and "5" is for groceries. I can add as much details as I want under "comments" in the cell, details like what people had in a restaurant, bill payment details, things Ision cooked, breakdown of my salary/taxes and so on.
The fields here track the amount I owe my mum in terms of allowance (most of the time it's a negative number!), amount of musical royalties I've obtained so far, frequent flyer miles, salary/overtime earned this month, amount I've set aside for holidays and the number of days I've skipped cardio/gym (and the reasons why). There are other entries here that shall remain a secret. Hehe.
This is the high-level breakdown of my expenditure this month and to date. There are only 3 categories here namely "bills", "non-bill expenses" and "savings".
These are entries of my weight taken in the gym on days I do weights. There's also a number that provides an average value to date.
Details entered here on a daily basis include weight (yes I admit there's some duplication of information), work/leave hours, total number of leave hours left and the Australian-to-Singaporean dollar exchange rate. Under "comments" are details of the things that I did that day which means that this Spreadsheet™ is also a diary, which is one of its most important features.
This section documents important events which are entered against dates.
This small section contains the amount of superannuation contributions I've made and how much there is now in my superannuation fund and these give me an indication of the fund's performance. There are also entries of how much tax I've paid and after-tax salary I've earned for that financial-year-to-date. There are also now-defunct items that are near but outside the box e.g. things I need to buy or do.
Here you can find a breakdown of my monthly expenditure i.e. the tallied amounts of the "1" to "9" categories against the amount budgeted for that category for that month. I'm alerted of an overspent in a category by a conditional change in format i.e. red font. This was the original intent of my Spreadsheet™ but clearly it's now so much more.
The amount saved (i.e. post-tax salary minus expenditure) each month and to date, as well as any deficit and costs associated with relocation are documented here.
This is a chart of my weight based on numbers entered in section 04.
These are charts of my weight (in green) and annual leave balance (in red) based on numbers entered in section 05. There used to be fat and muscle percent as measured by my weighing scale at home but I found that was too much of a pain to do every morning (especially in the wintry cold as I need to remove all my clothes for the weigh-in) so I scrapped those entries. So you see, even OCDs have limits.
The exchange rate and superannuation details entered in sections 05 and 07 respectively from this month and all other previous months appear here, along with the total amount of bank interest earned for the month and the total amount of money I have to date. These are used as inputs to charts in other sections. Every time the total amount of money I have reaches a certain target, the cell changes colour to pink. I'm also alerted should there be a decrease in the number compared to the previous month.
I've cancelled my Singaporean credit card but when I still had it, the transactions I made using that card appear here. I only use this card in Singapore and the picture above covered a duration when I was there.
This is Ision's work roster and work hours. Several years back, I managed to convince him to allow me to track his expenditure which means that he had to report all his purchases and provide me with the receipts. Knowing how opposite of such OCD-behaviour he was, I was really surprised he kept that going for 11 months. The only reason I could think of is he also wanted a means to track his expenditure but was too lazy or not Excel-savvy enough to do it himself. He eventually gave it up because it was too much of a hassle for him. The number of work hours in this section provides an input to calculate his salary which was useful during those 11 months but not now but the functionality remains. I now mostly use this section to track his non-routine off days.
These are charts of the monthly earned interest to date (maroon) and the total amount of money I have to date (black) based on numbers found in section 12.
These are charts of the superannuation I've contributed (light pink) versus the amount in my superannuation fund (dark pink) as well as the Australian-to-Singaporean dollar exchange rate (purple) based on numbers found in
This section stores the amount of money I owe Ision and vice versa so that I can tally up the amount to transfer to his account for each month. Tracking is necessary because we both pay different utilities for the apartment. Also, he pays for shared groceries in advance and I usually pay the total amount for our restaurant meals first. Hence these "overlaps" in payments require this section to be kept in tip-top condition. Ision trusts me totally to tally up the right amount (actually he might be trusting my OCD instead of me) but the evil inside of me can't help but wonder if he'll ever notice if I cheat a bit of his money via some "intelligent accounting". Of course I won't do that.
With the problem of online fraud and identity-theft worsening, one really needs to track what gets deducted from one's bank account and I do that scrupulously using this section. When I started this Spreadsheet™, I only had a few bank accounts so it was easy to include details of each bank transaction (as exported from my online statements). However as the number of bank accounts grew, I now only itemise the dollar value and the corresponding date for these newer banks. Section 18 contains the original banks with the greater level of detail.
This section tracks bank transactions for the newer banks in lesser detail.
For the purpose of filing income tax, the amount of bank interest earned financial-year-to-date is documented here across all banks. I used to track the movement in interest rates for all these banks under "comments" but as the number of banks increased, I found that to be too much work. I still track the rates online but just not documenting them anymore.
Here is a quick summary of how much money I own in 2 categories i.e. with and without including non-Australian bank accounts. It also stores the amount I have stashed in other depositories like PayPal and hard cash at home.
Every month requires a new tab in my Spreadsheet™ and I create one easily based on a constantly-updated template. I also store superseded templates in the same file. As mentioned earlier, I started this Spreadsheet™ back in the States in 2004 but a hard disc crash led to a loss of all my data (as well as all my pictures taken in USA!) and so the current Spreadsheet™ only has tabs starting from November 2005 (i.e. it has 203 tabs to date). The huge lesson learnt was to always back the file up and I now have backups in multiple locations. This Spreadsheet™ is simply TOO important to lose!!!
The above picture shows a completed tab but when the month is not over yet, I have working sections within the tab that gets deleted eventually. The most important working section is the calculation of how much my payout would be based on the leave balances should I be retrenched this very minute and how many months I can survive without employment before the total amount of money I own starts to drop. It also contains a modified (very frugal) budget that is based solely on my bank interest earnings versus expected expenditure. This used to be very important when my Papua New Guinea stint ended when the possibility of retrenchment was very real but the industry has picked up now so it's less crucial. There are also other less important features not mentioned above e.g. documenting the movies I've watched in the cinema, my to-do list (including the crossed-out completed items) and projected bank interest calculations for term deposits.
The most enjoyable benefit I get from my Spreadsheet™ is the ability to have a retrospective look at how my life has changed over the years. However when I review the past tabs I never fail to pick up typos and errors in formulas. Making corrections and fine-tuning the massive file (currently 21.2MB) is a never-ending task but that's also part of the enjoyment. It gets really difficult too after a holiday when I have to transfer all my hand-written notes into the Spreadsheet™. That being said, keeping things as detailed and correct as possible gives me peace and calms me. You just have to see it from the perspective of someone with this particular OCD and you'll feel what I feel too.
I love you Spreadsheet™ and I know we'll have many MANY more years of fun together!