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I have started to budget and track my income and expenses using a simple spreadsheet. It have a better overview of where my money is going, but due to my work history I have money spread over accounts in four countries and four currencies. How can I get a feel of budget and expenses without being confused by currency fluctuations?

If I use a single spreadsheet for all currencies, then currency fluctuations shows up as a gain or loss. If I use one spreadsheet per currency, then currency transfers show up as a gain or loss.

More specifically, currently, I use GBP for my spreadsheet. For any transaction on a non-GBP account, I write the transaction as =x/y where x is the transaction in non-GBP and y is the day mid-market exchange rate. The spreadsheet then shows the account in GBP even though it's really in EUR, SEK, or CAD. I apply a correction monthly for currency fluctuations, which shows up as a gain or loss in GBP. Since I have no intention of converting EUR to GBP, that gain or loss is not really relevant. But if I don't include my EUR account in the same spreadsheet at all, then every transaction from my GBP to my EUR account shows up as a loss, which is not accurate either.

How can I correctly account for having money in different currencies, without currency transfers or currency fluctuations ending up as gains or losses? Recently, monthly changes in GBP/EUR multiplied by my Euro savings easily exceed my net monthly income or expenses, so I'm losing track of what my “proper” income and expenses are...

(Note: this spreadsheet is purely to inform myself where my money is going. I do not need this information for any other purposes)

  • I feel your pain. I used the old version of Quicken and although it had support for multiple currencies, transfers and fluctuations in exchange rates threw all the reports out. I gave up. – Aias Oct 19 '16 at 22:39
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    Personally, I would suggest tracking each currency separately, then applying conversions only when you want to combine all the totals into a single number. – keshlam Oct 20 '16 at 3:24
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    What keshlam said, with this: Separate the currencies on different tabs. Have a cell with the exchange rate on each tab. Have the credit/debit/total amounts converted and displayed on that tab. When you do want an update on that tab, all you have to do is enter new entries and update the exchange rate. The idea being to do all your comparisons in your "home" currency. Record the transaction as actual values in the currency that was used. If the bank statement says 9.43 EUR, use that. Then the GBP value next to it is for comparison only, and is based on the most recently entered rate. – Xalorous Oct 20 '16 at 14:59
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How can I correctly account for having money in different currencies, without currency transfers or currency fluctuations ending up as gains or losses?

In my view, your spreadsheet should be in multiple currencies. i.e. if you have gained some in specific currency, make a note of it in that specific currency. If you have spent something in a specific currency, then make a note accordingly. You can use an additional column for reporting this in a neutral currency say GBP.

If you are transferring the money from account of one currency to account of another; change the balances as appropriate with the actual conversion rate.

If you need this record keeping for tax purposes, then get a proper advise from accountant.

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