Alexandrine Clarisse June 3, 2020 Spreadsheet
Creating a household budget using the traditional pen‐and‐paper method has almost become the thing of the past. Today, more and more people are turning to more sophisticated ways to make their budgeting tasks a lot faster and easier. One of the best tools in effectively planning a family budget is a household budget spreadsheet software program, which is widely available on the Internet nowadays.
We want to look at costs, so we reserve a tab in the real estate spreadsheet for that. Here, you have a decision. You can either make a large list of standard rehabilitation and operating costs or a smaller list of costs specific to this property. The first option allows you to use the Excel spreadsheet for other properties which are probably not the same. The second option keeps things small and tidy and might work if this is a once‐off investment. Either way, you will want to include all of the costs in a timeline schedule by week or month. This would include the re‐roofing, paint, plumbing, electrics, landscaping, electricity if you are responsible for it, insurance, etc. The financing costs are likely to be the most complex because you need to estimate not only the interest rates of the loan or loans you get, but the principle amortization, mortgage insurance, etc. This can be complex from a calculations standpoint. How granular you get with costs is up to you.
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.
The first consideration is how clear and accurate the Excel formulas are. The keys here are easy accessibility and logical flow of the formulas. That means they should be either directly coded in the spreadsheet cells or written in an accessible VBA module, open to the user to view and change. Both of these approaches provide the ability to audit and test the formulas without requiring complex actions on the end user‘s part.
There are other ways to import data into your database, including using Web forms or setting up a special email inbox that will post the information automatically. These tasks will take some skill and some HTML knowledge, however. Other tools require more programming skill to do what Trackvia does with a few mouse clicks, or are more cumbersome to manipulate, or don‘t have the automatic defaults that make setup as easy as Trackvia. Did I mention the cost? $10 per month per user. This includes an unlimited number of databases and up to a GB of attachment storage (meaning that you aren‘t charged for the actual records themselves that are stored). If you sign up before October 1 for an account, the company will give you several additional features free.
Third, building the right kinds of collaborative applications requires some skill and understanding how and what kinds of data are shared. How many people are going to be adding/changing records to your database? How many just want to do queries and reports? And how do you prevent conflicting updates? Finally, when you add the Web and Internet‐based access to the data, you have greatly increased the skill level required to create and manage your database. While there are some really good Internet‐facing database programs (Alpha Software, Filemaker, Quickbase from Intuit, and DabbleDb ‐ just to name a few that I know of), none of these are as easy to setup and manipulate as Trackvia.com, a service that has been out for the past year but recently gotten some much‐needed improvements.