When I first started full timing I wanted to keep up with my expenses so I would know how much this lifestyle was costing me and to be able to know where I could cut back on expenses if need be.
I knew there was such a thing as a spreadsheet but I hadn't the foggiest idea how to use one so I went to an office supply store and bought a columnar pad which I used to write down the money I spent and what I spent it on, which by the way is pretty depressing when you look back on it.
Well about a month ago the columnar pad started falling apart from use and it seemed like no amount of scotch tape was going to hold it together much longer so I figured it was time to look into this whole spreadsheet thing and see if it would work for what I needed it to do.
I'm fairly computer savvy but spreadsheets are apparently a completely different discipline that you have to learn just to be able to use them and I didn't want to get involved in a whole different ballgame I just wanted to use them, so I went looking on the Internet for pre-made spreadsheets.
I wasted a lot of time looking at spreadsheets designed for budgeting which I didn't realize wasn't what I needed, but I finally figured out that what I really needed was an expense spreadsheet but it was still hard to find one with exactly what I needed on it. I found a couple that were close and figured I could maybe learn enough about spreadsheets to know how to modify them to suit my specific needs.
After a lot of Internet study I was able to finally customize one that suited my needs and I'm extremely happy with the results. A spreadsheet with my expenses on it is not only a lot easier to use but it gives me information at a glance without having to decipher the faded scribblings from a year ago. And of course it adds everything up for me so I can tell immediately were my moneys going without having to do any addition myself.
I wish I had learned to use spreadsheets in the beginning since I'm sure it would've made my life a little easier. I still don't know how to make one from scratch, nor do I care, but I do feel confident enough that if I can download a generic spreadsheet designed to accomplish some task I will be able to modify it so it will work for me, and that's really all I need.