So with all the new financial transactions I am dealing with these days - moving; COVID-related refunds and free money wins; buying a house; bank bonuses- I'm having trouble figuring out how to track everything.
Am I tracking Expenses? or Income? or Savings?
Let's say I make $100 a year and I spent $20 in expenses. But then I got a refund for $2 on an expense. Do I add the Refund ($2) as Income or do I subtract it from Expenses?
I guess it depends on what exactly I'm tracking.
Refund as Income
Let's say I track the Refund as Income in my spreadsheet.
Total Income = $100 + 2 = $102
Expenses = $20
Difference: $102-20 = $82
Savings = $82
Savings Rate = 82/102 = 80.4%
Let's say I subtract the Refund from Expenses
Total Income = $100
Expenses = $20-2 = $18
Difference : 100-18 = $82
Savings = $82
Savings Rate = 82/100 = 82%
In our example, the Savings Amount doesn't change. But depending on where you track the Refund, either your Income increases or your Expenses decrease. And this in turn affects your Savings Rate, if you calculate Savings and Savings Rate as shown above.
Right now, I'm subtracting any applicable Refunds from the corresponding line Item in my Expenses sheet. So for example, Progressive offered a $10 COVID credit to my car insurance premium for the month of April. I paid for my premium in January, but added the Refund as a credit in my expenses for May which is when the credit posted to my account. This reduces the total expenses for this line item.
I think in the end I decided to track my Refunds as Expenses, as applicable. For the Progressive car insurance example, I can look back on it and see how much I actually had to pay Progressive for coverage for the year 2020. And at the end of the year when it's all said and done, whatever I don't list as an expense is considered Savings!
Part of me did want to track all the COVID-related free money wins, but I think I'd have to create a separate spreadsheet for that.
Here's how my expenses are looking so far this year.
I didn't include YTD totals because my totals don't really make sense right now. All in all my data is a little skewed because of new expense categories; the additional sources of income this year so far, particularly related to lump sums I've received in association with my Aunt's death; and the fact that my money refuses to shelter-in-place due to the opening of new and closing of old accounts. The new accounts are partially due to bank bonuses and partially due to finding ways to optimize some of my current account holdings (e.g. online savings account for higher yields, new brokerage accounts, cashback debit card offerings, etc).
As always, my spreadsheet is in perpetual tweak mode. Even though it's not quite perfect, it's a good start to see how much money is coming in (Income) and how much is going out (Expenses). As the year progresses and I experience new money fluctuations, I'll just keep updating the spreadsheet as best as I can.