Ask an Expert: Financial Tips for Life

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Karen Fenske

Track Anytime, Anywhere, and Save!

Yes, even budgeting has become hi-tech. With a little help from Google Sheets, you can track your spending and plan ahead to manage your cash flow, either for your personal or farm business finances. Because this app sits in the virtual world it can be accessed on your cell phone, laptop, computer, tablet, or anywhere with a wifi connection. This makes Google Sheets the perfect way to manage finances on the go.

How to:

  • After you have signed into your Gmail account, click the 9 little squares in the right corner of the home page (if you don’t have a Gmail account google how to set one up).
  • Select the green Sheets icon and set up your first Google Sheet! The online tutorials provide assistance
  • Set up multiple sheets to manage expenses and incoming cash—you can make this as simple or technical as you have an appetite for, as long as you’re tracking something!
  • Be sure to update regularly with new expenses and income to keep an accurate financial snapshot

Worried you don’t have time? Share. With Google Sheets you can easily share your budgeting sheets with others so you and your business partner, spouse, or kids can enter the amounts into the spreadsheet. Because the sheets are stored in the cloud, you can work in the same document at the same time. You may be surprised how easy and practical it is. If you have a business, personal income, a rental, etc… you can set up your tracking sheet to see all income and expenses in one place.

Why track finances?

It can be a great stress reliever knowing where your money is going—using Google Sheets to track your funds can help you gain control over something that once seemed unmanageable. Also, if you track your spending you can see the little places to save. These add up to a tidy sum each month which can help you get the things you want.
As well, if you’re planning for the farm, tracking finances and projecting costs and returns can help you better understand your profit margins. As well, you’ll be able to make smarter business management decisions, such as which varieties are most profitable for you, and just how much you should charge for that head of cauliflower at market.

A side note on saving:

You don’t have to be rich to save, just determined. I work with folks just like you to make the best spending and saving decisions.

How can you save money? Pay yourself first! Typically we spend anything that lands in our bank account and because of our high-technology world with debit cards we have access to the money right away. After expenses and buying what we want it’s easy to have nothing left to save for a rainy day or retirement.

An efficient strategy to “grow a nest egg” is to take TFSA and RRSP contributions off “at source”. For those with employees, it may be possible to set up a group RRSP plan where the contribution amount of their choice is taken off before paycheques are deposited.

You’re in business to take care of your family and you care about those who work for you. Farmers typically don’t have pensions, so helping your employees – and yourself! – save is one of the best things you can do. Some employers choose to match 1% or more as an ideal way to show appreciation and support. For example if they give $100 a month at 5% that’s $5/mo. Over the years it’s a nice bonus that is not tied to wages. It all adds up.

Karen Fenske is licensed to sell Mutual Funds and Insurance in BC. She has a degree in business and mediation skills, and has provided strategic planning and business development for 25 years. She lives in Vernon with her husband. She enjoys spending time with her two young adult children, in her garden, hiking, skiing, travelling around the province, and watching murder mysteries.