Hanriette Enola February 19, 2021 Spreadsheet
To know if a household budget spreadsheet software is user‐friendly, try several programs online and see which ones are easy enough to use by people with basic budgeting and computer skills. The layout of the spreadsheet should not only be easy to understand, but also be able to present all the necessary information in a glance. It should contain just the right number of graphics and details to avoid confusion for its user.
First, databases are still tricky for some people to understand. While relational databases can be thought of as tables that have several indexes, this is more than many people want to deal with. Second, the collaboration tools are tough to learn and use. Look at how many people still use Lotus Notes for email and not much else. And since most of us are comfortable with email, using it as the transportation system isn‘t all that taxing. Until the day comes when three people are working on the same spreadsheet and make conflicting changes.
The second component of a good real estate investment spreadsheet is a long cash flow projection period. Property investments are typically very long term ‐‐ from 10 to 20 years on average. In particular, if you are buying real property for long term portfolio holdings, it makes sense to have at least 10 years of monthly or quarterly data, and even up to 30 years. This ensures you capture the entire future cash flows, and enables a much more accurate determination of net present value, internal rate of return, and capitalization factors.
The fourth component to look for in a real estate investment spreadsheet is the ability to input growth rates. Instead of manually keying in different numbers, say for utility costs or rental rates, simply changing a periodic growth rate is much faster and easier. Most good investment models will allow the user to change the important input factors via growth rate variables. This substantially reduces the time to analyze different scenarios and allows the spreadsheet model to be semi‐automated.
Finally, when applying discount factors, where do you intend to get your discount numbers? For a company with existing debt and equity capital you can calculate WACC and use that. For a startup company you need to figure out a risk‐adjusted cost of capital that makes sense. Usually this is not just a risk‐free rate which only the largest companies in the world have access to. It‘s probably something higher.
I like using spreadsheets for monetary goals because of the functions I can use. If you are working towards a savings goal, using a word processor or writing them out will require constant updating. With a spreadsheet, you can simple add in how much more you‘ve saved, and if you had the right formulas set up, it will do it all for you. First, set up a different sheet for your long term goals and your short term goals. You can have long term goals and then break them up into short term goals as well as have separate goals. Make the sheet look appealing with bold headers and colors. If you don‘t know how to use excel or other spreadsheet programs, you really only need the basics. Search the net to find out how to get started with spreadsheets.