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I think the idea suggested in book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind that using several bank accounts to handle money is a good idea. So I opened a few bank accounts and tried to create my personal balance sheet and budget plan to track the money flow for each month using Excel Sheet. However I found the Sheet is very difficult to follow, as there are different accounts. How do I make a nice one, especially good for handling money flow in several accounts? Example is appreciated.

Let me explain about my financial status. I have 3 bank accounts now: two normal saving accounts (named A and B) and one high-interest-rate saving account (named C).

Income:

  • Salary, account A, monthly

Expenditure:

  • Home morgage, account C, monthly
  • Credit card payment, account B, monthly
  • Investment fund, account B, monthly
  • Insurance, any account, half year
  • Tax, any account, yearly
  • Loan, account B, monthly (for 12 months)

My goals are

  1. to save some money to account C for reservation;
  2. save some money each month for large expenditure (for example for family vacation).
  3. Reserve enough money to pay the insurance and tax which happens not monthly.

Thank you.

  • There is no gain in having money spread around multiple accounts. You can track separate amounts in excel or whatever, no need to have physically separate account. – Aganju Dec 20 '16 at 15:58
  • I am a busy guy (I am still writing code now and it is 2:00am). If only using excel ,I need to record all transaction of the money accurately. This not only require too much effort, but also the result will never be true. The good of using several real accounts is that the result always reflect the real current situation, with little effort. – eepty Dec 20 '16 at 18:19
  • (Do not know why I cannot edit my previous comment...). The purpose to using several accounts is that you divide the money for several purposes: Necessities, Education, Play, Long Term Savings and Financial Freedom. I think this can help me to save money and make budget. An explanation here – eepty Dec 20 '16 at 18:31
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As your financial situation becomes more complex, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep track of everything with a simple spreadsheet. It is much easier to work with software that is specifically designed for personal finances.

A good program will allow you to keep track of as many accounts as you want. A great program will completely separate the different account balances (location of the money) from the budget category balances (purpose of the money). Let me explain:

When you set up the software, you will enter in all of your different bank accounts with their balances. Perhaps you have three savings accounts and two checking accounts. It doesn't matter. When you are done entering those, the software will total them up, and the next job you have is assigning this money into different budget categories: your spending plan. For example, you might put some of it into a grocery category, some into an entertainment category, some will be assigned to pay your next car insurance bill, and some will be an emergency fund. (These categories are completely customizable, and your budget can be as broad or as detailed as you wish.) When you deposit your paycheck, you assign that new income into budget categories as well. It doesn't matter at this point which accounts your money are located in; the only thing that matters is that you own this money and you have access to it. Now, you might want to use a certain account for a certain budget category, but you are not required to do so. (For example, your grocery category money will probably be in your checking account, since you will be spending from it regularly. Your emergency fund will hopefully be in an account that earns a little higher interest.)

Once you take this approach, you might find you don't need as many bank accounts as you thought you did, because the software does the job of separating your money into different "accounts" for different purposes.

I've written before about the different categories of personal finance software. YNAB, Mvelopes, and EveryDollar are three examples of software that will take this approach of separating the concepts of the bank account and the budget category.

  • As such, do I need to record all my money transaction using the software? For example a meal, a small amount spending...Actually I have tried some mobile apps before, but I found it takes me too much effort if I need to record all things, and in the end I give up to use these apps. – eepty Dec 20 '16 at 18:41
  • @eepty That really depends how much detail you want in your budget. Ultimately, every bank transaction does need to be entered, because you need to reconcile the software with your bank statements. But if you do a lot of cash transactions, you don't need to keep track of all of them, if you don't want to. In that case, when you take cash out of your bank account, you would enter that transaction as if the money is already spent, perhaps out of a generic "daily spending" category. Then you wouldn't need to enter these small cash expenses. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Dec 20 '16 at 19:03
  • @eepty Alternatively, if you do want to track every penny, you can create a "cash account" in the software. When you take cash out of your bank account, it would be entered as an account transfer from your bank account to your cash account. Then you can enter every cash transaction into the software and keep track of all the small purchases. Using good customizable software, you can make your budget as broad or as detailed as you like. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Dec 20 '16 at 19:06

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