Using Microsoft 365 to help manage a household budget

 

I like to think I am an organised person, I’m just not good with chaos. My house is ordered, my shopping list is written by the aisle, my pantry has the labels facing forward, and I have reminders and notes everywhere. I pride myself on the fact that I can usually find what I need pretty quickly.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule:

  1. School shoes –  Without fail they will go missing in the minutes prior to leaving the house every morning
  2. Money – Budget? La la la la la can’t hear you

Budget blindness

Neither my husband nor myself have ever really gotten a handle on our money situation. If there is a big ticket item we desperately need, we just get it and hope it all adds up later down the track. Hint: It rarely does.

We have stacks of bills – some paper, some digital – money coming in from a variety of income streams, four kids, a mortgage, dance school fees, karate fees, and (*gulps*) a teenager in the house …

As organised as I think I am, the money situation sounds too much like maths to me so I cross my fingers and swipe those cards all the while wishing like crazy that we actually had some savings.

It’s time to face facts

We could be managing our money a lot smarter, that is clear. It’s time to stop being overwhelmed and lay it all out in the open. There’s one thing for sure, and that is that it’s not going happen while I keep everything in separate baskets like I have been.

And that is where Microsoft Office 365 comes in. If you are thinking clunky old spreadsheets and Word files, think again.  For a paper-list writer like me, the new features are revolutionary!

I’ve had a play, and I’ve gone from overwhelmed to excited. Not only can I get organised easily, I can access and edit the work I’ve done on both my desktop and devices like my iPad and mobile. Plus, I can easily share that information with my husband and the teenager with a simple click of the button.

Here’s how it worked for us …

First up we need to sort out our money. Both of us have jobs, and both of us do extra freelancing on the side. Prior to now we have not tracked that at all. Sure, I’ve made spreadsheets before, but my skills have been rudimentary at best.

Microsoft Excel is now *sings* awesommmmme. Check it out:

 

budget 2

Using the search bar I was able to find and explore a whole range of templates already designed for managing budgets of every kind – no building from scratch required.

 

Budget 1

I found the one best suited for us and set to loading up the figures. I feel much less anxious now that it is all there in one place – and it looks exciting too, I actually want to jump in and work n this file. Excel even summarises the data and performs all the analytics – no maths for me – hooray!

 

Budget 3

Budget done, I can easily share this file with the other members of my family with a simple click in the top right hand corner. Now all of us are on the same page, literally.         

Oh, and we HAVE to talk about OneNote

Here is where Microsoft Office 365 gets really great for me. I don’t know if you know about the gem of an app that is OneNote? You should, it’s incredible.

You can use it for just about everything, writing notes, addresses, for storing files like the spreadsheet you just made, to bookmarking web pages and so much more. And the best part is that it travels with you – desktop, device, phone – as long as you have the app you can access everything you need. Again, you can share your work with family and friends – like I said, it’s incredible.

It takes a bit of time to get used to living completely paperless, but once you wrap your head around it you can barely believe that you were living any other way.

I doubt I’m even using this app to it’s full potential, but here is how it’s working for a busy working mum like me so far:

Budget 5

Here it is, see? It’s basically a filing system for your life. You can create a bunch of notes, and then create more pages within those notes. Sticking with the budgeting theme, I’ve listed the four places that I source groceries. You know all those subscriber emails full of grocery specials? I can easily copy/paste them while I’m at home or browsing on my phone, and then check back in once I am at the store.

Budget 8

If I’m researching or find something I like online, a simple right-click lets me send that page to OneNote where I can choose to save it in any page that I like.

Budget 9

Cool, right? Everything- and I mean everything! – can be saved within this app.

Budget 6

You can import images, files, audio recordings and more. I’ve imported the budget spreadsheet I just made so that I can access it anywhere, anytime and edit it to include new purchases or incomes.

Budget 10

Again it’s easy to share with family and friends.

Budget 11

Here’s a fun feature – see that little ‘Password Protection’ button? That means that even if you invite say, the husband, in to see your files, you can password protect some of the pages so that only you can access them. I mean, there’s probably no real reason you would ever want to do that … unless, of course, you had a page saved full of your dream dresses from Spell that might not exactly be featured on the budget spreadsheet. Know what I mean *winks*?

It’s honestly never been easier to track our money

This technology was the answer I needed all along.

I don’t need to be a mathematician, the software does all of that for me. That’s one huge hurdle out of the way for me – I’m a writer, we don’t usually do numbers well.

I also love how easily accessible everything is, and I love even more that it is so simple to use. Microsoft Office 365 is putting the ‘fun’ in functional and that is motivating. I’ve never been so excited to track our money and find ways to save.

2016 might be the year of savings (or Spell dresses) yet.

 

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