calculating expenses

Manual vs. Digital Expense Tracking

Personal finance can be quite tricky to navigate. For one, you need to learn a lot about how money works and how to manage it. Another, you have to keep track of your own finances can be rather difficult. We make multiple spendings a day, and it’s hard to keep track of each item, tally them up, and then keep doing this for days to come.

Having a way to keep track of your payments to healthcare, SR22, or life insurance is very convenient, not to mention useful in making sure you always pay on time. After all, with all the utilities and expenses, plus savings and insurance that we all pay monthly, it’s hard to juggle everything at once.

Fortunately, there are several ways to manage your finances. We’ll look at the three most popular ways and discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and whether they can be useful for you.

Digital Spreadsheets

Many of us are very familiar with statistics utility tools. Digital spreadsheets are popular because of their functionality and flexibility. They often come with various templates that can be used for different tasks and purposes. And yes, they can also be used for personal accounting.


It’s Very Flexible and Customizable. Spreadsheets can do almost anything you command them to. You can make a scheduler out of it, you can make a to-do list, and as mentioned here, you can make a personal expense tracker. You can customize it however you want it, and even command it to do calculations based on your preference.

Immediately Accessible Anywhere. Be it a laptop, a tablet, or a phone, you can access spreadsheets almost anywhere. They normally come bundled in with every smart device or computer, so you don’t need to download anything. It’s one of the most accessible forms of data-managing software, after all.

Familiar and Free. We’re all familiar with them, and most of the time, it’s free. In the case of Microsoft Excel, you might have to purchase a subscription. But for both Google Sheets and LibreOffice Calc, they’re free.


You Need to Learn Some Basic Commands. A major downside to using spreadsheets is that you need to learn how to use them first. The flexibility and customizability come at the expense of ease of entry, as you need to be familiar with spreadsheet commands first.

It’s Do It Yourself. As mentioned before, spreadsheets are very flexible. And largely because it’s a do-it-yourself affair. You can download expense tracking templates for free, but you’re most likely going to heavily edit it, requiring time and effort on your part.
writing on a notebook

Notebook and Pen

For those who’d really much rather prefer a manual way of tracking their finances, a notebook and pen will still do the job quite well. Since the input method is through handwriting, you’re most likely to remember what’s written and will be able to remember a large portion of your finances on the fly. However, if you’re simply a stickler for hard copies of data, you can still type the information on a computer and print it out for later hard copy management.


Easy and Instinctive. We’re all used to writing down info and noting down expenses. Tracking your expenses via notebook and pen can be quite an instinctive experience. You’ll be pulling it out now and then, yes, but that’s also what makes it very engaging. Because it’s a physical device, you’re most likely to remember to bring it out every time you make a purchase.

Everyone Has a Pen and Paper. You don’t need to buy a phone, have a laptop, or download software- everyone has a pen and paper at home that they can already use. You can opt to make or buy a dedicated notebook, but even that is highly accessible.

Manual yet Customizable. Because you’ll be writing down most of the information, you can lay it out however you want it to be. Organizing the figures and the data will be a very personal experience, and you can tailor it to however you find it most eligible.


Manually Input Data. You will have to bring it out every time, you will have to write it down, and you will have to carry it around. If that sounds too much of a hassle for you, then going digital might be the best.

No Automatic Calculation. We already talked about how information is put in it manually. But don’t forget, you’ll also have to do all the mathematical computations on your own.

Regardless of what you choose, the important thing is you start managing your finances and tracking expenses.


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