Friday, July 18, 2014

Configure and Reuse Pagemonth Budget As You Wish

On our homepage at we said "Spreadsheet budgets just make sense.  You can set it up the way you want it."  Pagemonth spreadsheet budget goes even further.  It is user configurable in every possible way.  Users can take it apart and reconfigure all of its sizes, fonts, cell outlines, borders, content, formulas, titles, spacing--everything right down to a clean new blank spreadsheet if desired.

That would be silly, however, since users can just select a new blank spreadsheet.  So I begin with the assumption that the user will want to keep at least some formulas intact and hidden from view, and keep the page structure intact with vertically stacked months January through December so that scrolling through the year top to bottom is easy and locating information by the same cell position in each month feature remains functional..

I also assume that users will retain the basic workspace of about 21 rows deep and columns A through P across for data entry, editing, and printing.  And I further assume users will want to keep the format and design of twelve pages, one per month, with the cash flow chronologically arranged  like a checkbook, top to bottom in the left hand columns, totals in the middle columns, and category groupings in the right hand columns.  This format and design is protected by copyright.

But everything beyond the basic format and design is the user's choice.  What the spreadsheet's use is to be, whether for home or personal use or business or other function, is up to each user.  What categories to use or alter, what data to set up or delete are user options as well.

And one of Pagemonth's most useful user advantages is it's reusability year after year with no need for more downloading and no costs.   Once the spreadsheet is arranged to the user's needs and preferences, the same spreadsheet can be used year after year by simply changing the year date and saving it as the new year--for example budget14.xls, budget15.xls, budget16.xls and so forth.

All these advantages are discussed in more detail on our free setup and other help pages.  What I'm stressing here is that Pagemonth Budget is possibly the most configurable and versatile free spreadsheet budget available on the internet.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

This July 4 Declare Your Financial Independence

Independence Day is fast approaching, and this year’s July 4 is a great time to declare your financial independence by taking control of your money! Pagemonth Budget is ready, willing, and able to help. We are again offering all of our budget and template spreadsheets absolutely free.

Go to the bottom of our homepage, instantly download our free budget in the Excel or Works version you prefer, grab a template in that version as well, and you can begin taking charge of your finances in minutes, for no cost whatsoever and at absolutely no risk.

How can we afford to give our products away? We rely solely on revenue from financially relevant product and service ads that Google places on our pages and pays us a few cents when visitors click on them. We also accept donations through Paypal and major credit cards.

So our revenue is 100% ad and donation based. It costs users nothing, and depends solely on the number of visitors to our website to download our free products.

We want to help you become financially independent, and we know our spreadsheets can help. If they help you, spread the word so we can remain free for everyone.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Screen Size, Font, and Format Choices

Formatting choices are sometimes underrated in their importance when working with spreadsheets, but they deserve to be thought through with the same scrutiny as any other spreadsheet element, and chosen deliberately.

I decided to pursue this topic after thinking about why I designed Pagemonth Budget's workspace to be sized as it is.  All format choices, after all, are up to the user, and I could have maximized the workspace just as easily, or arranged the month pages horizontally instead of vertically and so on, but I wanted the workspace to be vertically arranged so that I could break each month into three screens and land in the same cell position in the next or previous month by using the pageup and pagedown keys.  That makes editing and locating much easier than full screen editing.

I also wanted to be able to see my desktop icons as I edited and viewed my workspace, so that I could visit other sites and return quickly to exactly where I had left.  The same reasoning guided my choices of font size and style--with the added need to be legible and viewable with the most comfort and without squinting or excessive scrolling.

Why three vertical screens per month?  Because Pagemonth Budget needed to print out as standard size notebook sheets for convenient review, and each monthpage is higher than it is wide.  Computer screens, conversely, are wider than they are high.  Position, ease of use, efficiency and other factors guided my formatting choices for the Pagemonth Budget workspace design.

I cite this example because each user's format choices will also benefit from careful selection.  Full screens are the normal view for most needs, but when things get hidden by the taskbar and the user must move it to the top or sides to see what he is editing, full screens are a hindrance and a "framed" workspace serves best.

These matters are why we begin the Setup Page on our website with the advice to "First, size your workspace to look like this:" and the view in figure 1:  about 21 1/2 rows high and column P wide.
It has shown itself to be the best format for editing, viewing, printing and binding our spreadsheet's design.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why Use Twin End Balances?

Unlike most free home budgets, Pagemonth budgets and templates all have twin End Balances in bold type at the bottom of each month's page, in columns D and J.  Why?

The twin amounts are given to the penny and should agree to the penny before moving on to following months.  Agreement indicates the twin processes of cash flow on the left and budget category grouping on the right have successfully mirrored each other's quantity information (income and expenses).

Agreement does not, however, mean that the month's data is correct--merely that it has been processed in time and in category correctly.  The page could be completely wrong, if, for instance, it was based on the wrong number of weeks, or paydays, in that month.  Most months of the year have four weeks, but a few (January, May, and August in 2014)  have five.  And depending of whether paychecks are issued weekly or biweekly, and on what weekday,, there might be three paydays in a month with five weeks or only two.

That is why it is essential when setting up the year's budget to do so with a good, legible calendar in hand that shows the entire year, as is found on the back of most checkbook registers.  Begin your budget by copying January throughout, the year, but modify it to the correct number of weeks and paydays in each subsequent month.  Seasonal work such as teaching may or may not have summer paydays, for example, or such summer checks may be of amounts different from those of the regular school year.

Whatever the user's job or pay schedule, getting each month set up based on the correct number of weeks and paydays is essential as a starting point.

Then comes the month by month adjustments for error, which won't be possible until projected income and expenses become actual amounts, day by day.  I prefer to base my estimates on whole dollar amounts, because actual amounts usually have cents after the decimal.  The whole dollar projected figures, therefore, tend to stand out to the eye till they are finalized.

But whatever future or present numbers are entered, let's assume that the twin balances at the bottom do not agree for some reason.  What to do then?  If your eye can't spot the error either in cash flow or category sides, subtract either twin end balance from the other to find the amount of the error you are looking for.

Often that error amount will suggest where to focus your attention and make correction easy.  Sometimes, however, even knowing the amount of the error isn't easy to track down.  For example, if you have a total amount in a given month scheduled for groceries on the budget side, but broken down into weekly days of distribution on the cash flow side, it may be that one or more weekly grocery day amounts are off in cash flow, and each must be checked--even totaled if necessary.

If the twin balances do not agree in a given month, first note whether the next month's twin balances are also in disagreement.  If so, the original month the error is showing up is on the budget, right side,  If, however, only the original month's twin balances differ but later months are again in agreement, then the error is probably on the left, cash flow side.  This is so because the Beginning Balance of each month (column J) is taken from and repeats the  End Balance (also column J) of all months after January, which is the only Beginning Balance entered manually.  Mistakes in column J are therefore carried forward from month to month till corrected.  But not mistakes in column D, the cash flow's side.  Realizing this can focus the user's search for errors on one side or the other.

Keeping the twin end balances in agreement, then, is a necessary but not sufficient guarantee of accuracy in any given month's page.  But it can serve to focus the user's attention where it is needed.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It Is Still A Good Time to Budget for 2014

Even though the early months of 2014 have come and gone, now is  still a good time to create a 2014 Pagemonth Home Budget if you haven't begun one yet.  Why?

You should have your income and checking account information in hand now, with income deposited and showing on your latest statement, all bills paid and recorded in your checkbook, and most late adjustments cleared at your bank.

Moreover, you should have had a chance by now to reconcile your first checking account statements of 2014 with your own checkbook entries and balanced your bank statement and checkbook, so you can now plan out the rest of the year.

The point I am trying to emphasize is that there has only been a few months' information to finalize so far--a relatively manageable amount--and it shouldn't be difficult to correct any errors or clear up any questions by a simple call to your bank.

Later this year--say, by August or September, it will become more challenging, as you can imagine.  It's possible to begin a budget in any month, but you won't have anything recorded for previous months.  You will need to enter a beginning balance manually for the month you begin and go forward from then.  If you want to review summary information--say, for filing upcoming income taxes-- you will need to backtrack through the months you missed and plug in a lot of data before you can use it.  Again, it can be done, but it takes much more time and multiplies confusion the longer you wait.  Simply rounding up bills, receipts and other paperwork and trying to organize and record it all can be daunting.

Another unwise home budget approach too many take is to create a 2014 budget early in the year, then ignore it till several months have gone by.  And such users are shocked to find that what looked like a good plan with a good result when they created it in December has come apart at the seams when they turn to it in April, May, or June.

Any home budget worth using plans ahead through the year, true enough, but then gets updated almost daily all year long as numbers and items change and "guesstimates" become more accurate.  No one--including me--can predict what may happen tomorrow, next week or next month.  That's why revising and editing is the normal task of home budgeting, no matter when you create one.

But the benefits of keeping a good home budget up to date are very great, whatever product or service you are using.  It can caution you before you make purchases you need to put off, reward you when good things happen like getting a promotion or raise, warn you in time to head off unexpected repairs, provide buffers that you are comfortable with so when the insurance goes up or the car breaks down it won't sink your plans, and in general let you sleep soundly at night.

The more you budget, the easier it gets.  As your fortunes rise you still need to do it, and during tough times it will show you a way to recover and thrive again.  Our Pagemonth Home Budgets for Excel or MSWorks are free, and our support pages are extensive and also free.  If you want to begin to manage your home finances effectively, we encourage you to download our budgets and templates at the bottom of our homepage.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

No Ads, No Spyware, and No User Tracking

We think we offer the best free home budgets available anywhere.  And we encourage anyone in need of a free or low-cost home budget to download any or all of our four free budget and template files.

We have listed our Pagemonth Advantages on our home page.  But to them we have recently added "No ads, no spyware, and no user tracking." I want to elaborate on these here, where I have more space than in the list of a home page.

These three things apply to our free home budget and template files, not our website pages.  We do include Google ads on the top and bottom of each website page, but we insist they be relevant to our page and not contain objectionable content.

Further, we do not permit any spyware in our files as do many free or low-cost budgets.  We do not solicit user information nor sell it to anyone, period.

And we do not track our users.  Where they go, what sites they visit, what they download--none of it.  Our spreadsheets are private and belong entirely to those who download them from our website,  We do not track our users' use of our files or what they do with them.

We are serious about our budgets being private, secure, and user-anonymous.  We hope you will tell your friends, neighbors, and online contacts about our free home budgets and encourage them to try us,, because an increasing base of users is our only way to begin to defray our own ad costs.  But we won't know if you do or not.  We don't track you, remember?.