It seems there’s always something to be saving for!  Maybe it’s family vacation.  Maybe it’s a new car.  Maybe you need to replace some furniture, or fix up something in the house.  Most people can’t just stroke a check for these expenses, so if you’ve committed to avoiding debt, you have to spend at least few months saving for them.

Just over one year ago, Nancy and I celebrated our 5th anniversary (late) by going on an incredible trip to the British Virgin Islands.  We lived on a boat for a week (!) and saw some incredible sights.  While we don’t have a house payment, we didn’t just write a check and pay for the entire trip in one fell swoop.  We had to save up for it over a number of months, tracking those savings and trip expenses over time.

Avoiding debt requires that you THINK AHEAD.  Most things aren’t really emergencies: we know that our computer is going to get old, that our car is going to wear out, that the kids will eventually make that old couch really old, and that we’ll want to take vacation.   If you’re not going to open up separate checking accounts for each of these (something rather tedious and time-consuming), you have to keep track of this money inside your regular checking account.

That’s why I use a savings tracker spreadsheet.  A simple spreadsheet where you can enter the money saved or spent can help you keep track of how much money you currently have saved inside your checking account for a specific goal.  To do this successfully, you can’t be basing your spending off your checking account balance, because you’re building up money inside your checking account.  That money is earmarked.

Today, I’m excited to offer a free savings tracker spreadsheet!  Keep reading to find out how to get it.  Here’s how you’d use one:

Let’s say a family is saving for vacation, a new computer, and a new (replacement) car.   They’re going on vacation at the end of the year; they want to purchase the computer before the year is out; and they’ve committed to saving at least $25/month for their car, so that they can have at least some money set aside for a replacement car in a few years.  Here’s what their savings tracker might look like:Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.33.18 AM

Across the very top row, they have their savings funds and their names – Vacation, Computer, and Vehicle.  The second row is a SUM formula of everything they’ve saved so far, so that when they input something, it automatically tabulates the total.  The leftmost row going down has the date or the month.  Each month, you just fill out what you’ve saved/spent that month for those funds.

You’ll see that the total across the top includes the expenditures they’ve made so far for those funds.  I simply add a comment to explain those expenses, so I can remember what it was, like this:

What if you have a fund that you want to keep more detail on, or just one thing you’re saving for?  I use a format that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.24.14 AM

As you can see, it has a column for the date, as well as columns for “Amount Saved,” “Amount Spent,” and a description.  This helps you keep a bit more information in this expanded format.  We use this format for our family blessing fund.

We’ve used this type of tool to save for multiple vacations and keep track of our blessing fund, and it’s proven to be extremely helpful!  I’m excited to make it available for free if you subscribe to my blog!  This means that you’ll get new posts to your email after they are published, unsubscribe anytime.  You can do so below:

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