Joella Nour June 11, 2021 Spreadsheet
Lester P. Goodbinder had suffered another agonizing week in Pittsburgh. The semi-annual audit he conducted at the Bourgeois Ball Bearing Factory stretched into five 14-hour days examining electronic spreadsheets on an archaic computer system installed in the early ‘80s. The equipment churned so abysmally he cleverly joked to himself it was powered by lazy hamsters on treadmills. Not only that, the accounting software loaded on the system was an early version of ”Abacus,” and only slightly faster than a key-punch adding machine but considerably slower than a hand-held calculator.
I don‘t think so. My husband and I weren‘t a great married couple but we were excellent business partners. We almost never, actually maybe NEVER, fought about money. We agreed on how to raise our kids and were always honest about our finances. He made a lot of money and I had some money of my own from my grandmother and would inherit when my parents died. I knew that we would be able to sort through these things better on our own. Most significantly, he LOVED to make spreadsheets and certainly would not be willing to pay someone else make one for him. I did some research on the internet to see what our options would be. I knew we couldn‘t do it ourselves but that we would need some assistance because our finances were complicated. I learned about divorce mediators, professionals who work with couples at an hourly fee to help them navigate the process. It sounded like it would work for us so we agreed to find one. And we did. Well, I did.
Given this data set imagine trying to find out which Fridays you were busy at an appointment at noon while your partner was also busy at an appointment at noon and the descriptions of both of your appointments contained the phrase down town. If you are not familiar with relational databases and SQL it might surprise you to know that the question can be answered by a single simple SQL query. The database and SQL don‘t have it all their own way however. Spreadsheets come in to their own for tasks that benefit from a visual representation. Traditionally databases do not provide a visual way to browse the data in tables without explicitly requesting data.
Microsoft Excel is a phenomenally powerful calculator. You can create spreadsheets with 10,000 lines of data and calculate subtotals instantly. Indeed, if you change your data, any totals will get automatically updated. Arguably that‘s not too impressive. If we have quarterly revenues of $1m, and we secure another $20k, we can update our subtotal without summing revenues from scratch. So it‘s more impressive that Excel can do the same thing with statistical functions. If you‘ve ever plotted a chart on Excel, you may be aware that you can add a best fit line. These best fit lines are calculated using a method known as regression. Basically, you have to calculate the distance of every single point from the line, and minimise the sum. The maths is a little more sophisticated but the key point is that, every time you change the data, you need to perform the analysis all over again.
When Microsoft Excel is used to manipulate, store and analyse data it can become extremely difficult to manage, let alone efficiently work to produce any meaningful insights. This is because with data sets large and small, the data must be meaningful, logical, structured, internally consistent and clean. This holds true regardless of whether the data has been imported into excel from another system or manually entered. In this computing age, most people know that for any data set to be useable it must first be relatively structured and clean. A spreadsheet and its table layout naturally encourages data to be somewhat structured, however ensuring data is clean is also difficult.
You can go over your budget as often as you like. Some find it easier to enter amounts every day after they‘ve settled in for the day. Others will choose to go over it monthly. Going over it weekly is likely where most will settle though. Occasionally, we‘ll have a surplus or deficit at the end of the month. Perhaps you‘ve spent too much, or not spent all that you thought you would. Spending too much can be troublesome, but not spending as much as you thought can be a lot of fun. You may want to consider adding a budget field carryover in the income sheet and one called shortfall in the expenses sheet. If you spent too much, the amount that you overspent by becomes your budgeted amount for shortfall in your expenses sheet the next month. Didn‘t spend enough, and you put that amount in the carryover field in the income sheet. This will help you keep track of all your money as well as account for any shortfalls.
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