The Ultimate Spreadsheet for Freelancers Life & Business Finances
I’ve been developing and modifying this spreadsheet for 3 years now. It works well for me as a freelancer who wants to track the money. For independent freelancers who don’t want to drop $50/month on quickbooks or a paid solution, this will serve you well as it is FREE. My finance strategy has been to lower or eliminate all costs, and this is that solution for my business & life as they are tied together to some degree.
What’s in the Spreadsheet:
While technically not a budget, I call the main page, the ’20XX Master Budget’. It is more or less a Profit/Loss and an additional Net Worth calculation broken down by month for the year. Track your Expenses & Revenues and it will calculate your Profit/Loss. The last element on the page is Net Worth…liquid and fixed assets to get an overall determination of how much you are worth. I find that highly motivating as it is almost a game to make that number go higher.
This spreadsheet tracks finances for both business and life. As a Freelancer, is is all the same to me and what I really need to know is that I am on track, I haven’t spent too much money, and my Net Worth is increasing, or at least not decreasing.
Expenses are broken up into the Home Expenses, such as Mortage or Rent, Internet, Utilities, etc. I like to put the name of the utility company along with what they provide, so ‘Internet – Suddenlink’ reminds me who the company I’m sending money too. This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but I’ve had 3 different natural gas companies in the last 2 years.
You will notice an ‘ * ‘ asterisk next to certain Items. The asterisk represents if I pay that bill via check, vs paying that bill via credit card (no asterisk). In reality, the simplest way I found to truly determine how much money is going out is to put everything I can on the credit card (PAY OFF YOUR BALANCE EVERY MONTH, or use a debit card) and track that payment plus how much money in checks/cash I spent. That is what is calculated for the Profit/Loss. But I record all different item costs as I still want to know how much the bill is, and if I’ve paid it or not.
The next expense is Living. This is the food, pets, vehicle, gas, and insurance items. Everything not related to the home. You will see I use the asterisk system here as well.
Next is the Credit Cards / Debit Cards. Enter your bank name where it says Bank, followed by if it’s a Business Debit (BD), Credit Card (CC), or Visa Card (VC), or so on. Also on the item line, I like to put the last four digits of that card to further clarify which one I’m using. Ideally, I would put everything on one card, but I like to use American Express for miles with Delta, and many places don’t accept Amex. But month to month, try to limit how many cards you use. I have 5 or 6, but never use most of them.
Finally is the Business Expense. This is auto calculated based from Tab #4 and Tab #6. Your business expenses tabs. Please note that if the cell is slightly greyed out, that means to not enter numbers as they are auto-calculated.
Revenues are broken down via Business Revenues, and then Miscellaneous revenues. Use Misc revenues for random cash gains, tax refunds, odd jobs, or even birthday money if you want.
After Expenses and Revenues are tabulated, this will give you your Profit/Loss. Modify the spreadsheet so that your true profit/loss doesn’t double up items. For example if you pay at the pump using Credit Card, and are adding the Gas row and the Credit Card row, you double up that item and the Profit/Loss will be inaccurate. Use the asterisks to help you clarify what you actually pay for.
Your Net Worth and Assets is the number we should all be trying to improve. Broken down into Liquid (Bank Account Balances, Cash, Crypto, etc) and Fixed (Home value, Car, Financial Savings, etc). I do not enter in those values every month. As my retirements/IRA’s etc, are only quarterly, I generally do this no more than 4 times a year.
The second tab (look on the bottom of the spreadsheet) is the ‘Annuals’ tab. My freelancing business includes web sites that I charge annually for the hosting, I call these residuals. This is my solution to remember when to bill clients. It is independent of the ‘Master Budget’ and does not send the monthly total back to the 1st tab for calculations. That calculation is done on the next tab…’Biz Rev’. Feel free to delete this tab if you don’t have any residual income or annual billing.
Enter the dollar amount in the month (column) when the client (row) is due to be billed.
Fill in the cell with a color (I use yellow or orange), once you send the invoice and then change it to green (the color of money) once that invoice has been paid.
‘Biz One REV’. This is what I use to track Invoice payments. Only enter the dollar amount in the month (column) once you deposit the money into your bank. Invoice #s are tracked on the left hand side (row). The totals will be auto calculated back to TAB 1 – Master Budget. Please note that Invoicing is done in another Spreadsheet, I will release later using Google Drive & Google Sheets, so the details of what you are billing for is not included in this Master Budget Spreadsheet. The benefit for this tab is to understand when the money went into the bank account, and see who you are missing, or who is late in their payment. It should start to ‘stair-step’ down as the months go on.
I like to make notes of whose invoice is missing in the Notes column. And you can also notate the invoices that were sent in the year before but being paid in the current year.
Change the Tab name to ‘Your Business REV’. All calculations should still work. ‘Biz One’ was just used for this template.
‘Biz One EXP’. Simple tracking of your business expenses. This is extremely helpful when doing your taxes. All amounts and data will be auto-calculated back on the ‘Master Budget’ tab. Please note that this calculation spreads out cost over all 12 months. Modify as you wish.
I find myself using this less and less. As I often forget to enter expense items that are business related, I prefer going through the Credit Card Statements line by line at tax time. You could just put an overall dollar figure in the cost column at the end of the year and be done with it.
I like to separate my main business from another ‘hobby’ business, namely Squishy Lemons, I operate. But if you have two businesses, this spreadsheet will work for you as well. If you want to delete Biz One or Biz Two, go for it, just be sure to modify the Master Budget accordingly. ‘Biz Two Rev’ is a bit different than ‘Biz One REV’ as it gives you more data fields for tracking. Since I don’t use invoices for Squishy Lemons, it’s easier just to track all data here than to have an Invoicing system separate as in my main business.
‘Biz Two EXP’ is very similar to Biz One EXP and works the same way.
- I use Google Sheets…a free service that is streamlined and easier to use I feel than Microsoft Excel. This particular spreadsheet was built in Google Sheets and kept in my Google Drive. I highly recommend this solution for freelancers. Even though I have to keep paying $65/year for Microsoft Word/Drive Office 365 for clients needs, everything internal to my business is running through Google.
- You will need to modify the Spreadsheet. Change Fonts, Line Row Heights, and Column Spacing. Ironically, as an .ods download from Google Sheets, it messes up some fonts and line heights when you move it back into Google Drive. I’ve included an .xlsx version as well…use whichever you prefer.
- Font: I love Ubuntu Condensed. It is narrow so you can see all 12 months and a Total column, plus the 1’s look like one’s instead of an ‘l’ shape.