Business Expense Tracker
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- July 23, 2019 Updated
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Business expense tracking is a necessary evil. It’s vital to the success of any small business and, if done wrong, could cost a lot of time and money.
Many small business owners do not take the time to track their expenses, and that’s a big mistake that can slow down the growth of their business.
Below, you will find our free Excel Business Expense Tracker to manage and analyze your expenses. But before we dive into using the template, let’s look at why tracking expenses is crucial for your business.
Why You Should Track Your Business Expenses
Simply put, managing your company’s expenses the right way can help boost profits and grow your business.
- Financial Awareness
Tracking your income and expenses gives you a clear picture on what your financial situation is. Is it a good time to grow your business? Is your business profitable? You can’t make those decisions without understanding your cash flow and knowing where your money goes.
Having a budget helps to ensure you are allocating resources where your business needs them most. Should you cut down your costs? Can you increase the marketing budget? Are you overspending on paid advertising and social media campaigns? Keeping tabs on your monthly budget will ensure you are meeting your financial goals.
If you make an effort to record your expenses regularly, you will be prepared for the tax season. And since many expenses are tax deductible, they can help you to lower business income, and your tax bill.
Expense Tracking Options
There are many ways you can track your expenses. Here are some of the popular options.
- A Shoe Box
You can just hand your accountant a box full or receipts, and let them deal with all the paperwork. The downside is that accounting hours are expensive, and you will be paying more than you need to. If you don’t want to deal with scanning and organizing your paper receipts, consider a service like Shoeboxed. Just mail them your receipts. Shoeboxed will then scan and organize everything, and create an expense report.
- Accounting Software
Many accounting apps come with built-in expense tracking features. You can link your bank account, credit card, and other financial accounts to track expenses automatically, and in real-time. Accounting software usually comes with a lot of data and reports, so you can also get valuable insights into your expenses and cash flow.
- Expense Tracking Apps
If you travel a lot for business, using your mobile phone to scan, record, and submit receipts on the go might be a great solution. Electronic expense apps do not provide as many insights into your spending as accounting software, but they are a quick and easy fix for most business travel expense needs.
- Tracker Template
Many small business owners still prefer doing their expenses the old fashioned way, and enter each invoice or purchase into the spreadsheet tracker manually. Our Business Expense Tracker Template is a great option if you don’t have too many receipts to enter, or if you want full control on how your data is entered and presented.
Business Expense Tracker Summary
You must be in the “excel tracker template” camp.
And we have a good one for you.
Our Business Expense Tracker allows you to:
- Record or all your business expenses for a given time period,
- Categorize expenses,
- Analyze your spending with various charts and filters, and
- Review your spending on a month by month basis.
Before we dive into these features and explain them more thoroughly, it’s important to point out two high-level benefits of this tool.
- All expenses will be stored in one central location that can easily be reviewed, amended or discussed with your coworkers, accountant or business partners.
- The expenses seamlessly flow into the other tabs and provide valuable visual insights into your spending habits.
This template is a perfect tool for:
- Small business accounting such as small business owners, sole-proprietors, and freelancers;
- Anyone who needs to track their expenses in a corporate setting; and
- Anyone that simply needs to track expenses for their accountant, the accounting department at work, or for personal use.
Using the Business Expense Tracker
Ready to get started? Let’s dive into the template and see how to use it.
The first tab (A|Expense Capture) is where all of your expense data needs to be entered. To start, fill out the date range for when the expense tracking will take place.
I would recommend tracking expenses for one calendar year. While you may be tempted to use this template as your monthly expense tracker, doing so would make it challenging to compare your monthly expenses throughout the year. By entering in a full year’s worth of expense data, you will be taking advantage of all the analytical tools built into the template and gain better insight into your spending habits.
For each expense, you can log the following data:
- The date,
- An expense category,
- A description of the expense,
- A cost center, and
- The amount of expense.
You will be able to filter your expenses by any of the above bullets. I logged a few sample expenses into the tool – please see below.
The “Month” column will populate automatically when a date is entered. The “Cost Centers” are optional so you can leave them blank if you don’t need them. “Description” is an optional column as well. Mandatory columns are:
- Expense Category, and
When selecting an “Expense Category”, you will have a defined list of categories that you must choose from.
These categories are listed on Business Expenses (tab “D”). I will explain how to customize these categories shortly.
Note: The template has 24 rows, meaning 24 expenses can be tracked. If you are inputting expenses for the entire year, it is unlikely that 24 rows will be sufficient.
To add more rows, simply select the last row in the expense log, right-click and insert a row.
Finally, if you are copying expenses from a different template, make sure you are pasting as values. If your copied expenses are being calculated via formulas that are referencing cells in the old template, these calculations won’t work in this template and the amounts would calculate as $0. Paste as values.
On tab (B|Dashboard), the dashboard will break down your spending by category and also show you how your spending varies from month to month. There are more filtering options that allow you to drill down further via a slicer so you could analyze your “total marketing expense by month” or “expense totals by category during the month of April,” among many other scenarios.
This dashboard does not have a pie chart to show what the percentage of total spending is among the categories and also see how this changes from month to month, but you can easily add one. Knowing how each expense category constitutes the total expense could help uncover expenses that should be investigated.
For example, if you know that general office expenses are typically 10% -15% of your total expense each month, and it suddenly spiked to 40%, you would know to examine it and figure out why the increase occurred.
Expense Summary By Month
Tab (C|Summary) the expense summary is basically a financial statement showing your spending by category each month.
If you have cost centers, you can filter the monthly spending further by picking the relevant cost center. This is a simple, yet powerful, visual tool. It will allow you to check up on your monthly budget and compare your actual expenses to your monthly income and calculate your net monthly cash flow.
Business Expenses Categories
The final tab (D|Business Expense) lists all the business categories that flow into Expense Capture (sheet “A“). There are 24 different categories to choose from. The reality is, not all of these categories will apply to your business and there may be categories missing from the list that are relevant to you.
Feel free to overwrite categories that are not applicable. For example, when looking at the list below, if I know my business does not have a “Franchise, trademark and trade name” expense, then I could overwrite it with “Mileage.”
I would then click the table header cell, “Business Category,” and sort from A-Z so that the dropdown continues to be in alphabetical order when selecting a category in the Expense Capture sheet.
You can also add expenses to the bottom of the list if you needed more than 24 business expense categories.
Just a few more tips to help you getting the most out of this template.
Whenever you are entering new expenses, you will need to refresh the pivot tables so that all the charts update in real time. The process for this is simple and involves the keyboard shortcut:
Ctrl + Alt + F5.
Everything will update instantly.
There are two versions of this Excel template available for download. Version 1 (v1) defaults to U.S. currency ($). Version 2 (v2) does not use any currency. You can manually select your preferred currency or number format in either of the versions.
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