Build your personal financial tracking system from scratch — using Notion
Let’s start from, why we need to track our personal finance? There are so many benefits of doing it, like controlling your expenses and stick to your budget, evaluating your financial issues if you have one, plan your finance for the future, and knowing where your money goes will give you a peace of mind.
Then, why Notion? I’ve been making a financial note since 2016, from Notepad to MS.Word, Spreadsheet, and now Notion. I’ve also been using a productivity apps like Good Notes, One Notes, and Evernote, but Notion is still my main choice. Notion is the best all-around productivity app I’ve ever used, not just powerful, it’s also easy to use with little effort of learning. I will put some important links that might be useful for you to learn more about Notion at the end of this article. Let’s get started.
1. Make your own template
Before make a template, you must know what do you want to achieve with tracking your personal finance. For example, this is my goals, and what I want to track.
- Know where to cut if I use money for something not really useful
- Evaluating my budget so it can be better for next month’s
- Filter which one are my primary, secondary, and tertiary needs
- Know the most often payment methods that I’ve used
- Rate my experience when I use the money, to know if it’s worth it or not
What to track
- Daily expenses (this will be the main topic on this article)
- Salary usage
- Weekly/Monthly Evaluation
2. Notion Setup
1. Register, Login and basic setup
First, you need to register here. After that, try to login and you will see a screen like this.
Since I like to keep it clean, I will delete all of the template-example from Notion which you can see on the left side, and click Add a page to begin. We will start from here.
2. Make a tracking table
I will start from the first point of what I want to track, in this case, it’s daily expenses. I will make a list of what I want to know from my everyday expense as table’s columns.
List of Columns:
- Date (format: Date)
- Name (format: Text)
- Vendor’s Name (format: Text)
- Category (format: Multi-select) — For example, the option will be: Lunch, Dinner, Subscriptions, Daily Needs, Hobbies, Snacks, and Others
- Payment Method (format: Select) — For example, the option will be: BCA, OVO, GoPay, and Jenius
- Discount if any (format: Number)
- Price (format: Number)
- Price after discount if there’s discount (format: Formula) — Sum of Price reduced by discount
- Measurement (format: Select) — For example, the option will be: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
- Rating or Overall experience (format: Select) — For example, the option will be: One Star — Five Stars
Let’s start from make a table. You can type ‘/’ on the first line and there will be so many option type you can make, but right now, I will make a table first. To make it looks better, you can add icon and header just by clicking Add Icon and Add Header at the near of page’s name.
Now, I will fill the columns. To make a new column, you can just click ‘+’ on the right-side of column. And to make a new row, you can just click + New below the last row of table.
Next, you can see the format is still random, now we need to change the format for each column following the list I make above. How to change it is simple, just click the column name, and change the property type like this.
You can setup Text, Number, and Date format directly, but for Select, Multi-Select, and Formula, it needs a little configuration.
Format : Select
For Select and Multi-Select, click Configure Options and input all of the list that we already make. You can also change the tag color by clicking ‘…’ on the right side of tag list.
Format : Formula
For Total’s Formula, I will use subtract from Math operator function that let me calculate the total of subtraction between firstVariable value with the secondVariable value. The usage will be like the picture below, it says, Total = Price — Discount. There’s so many function that you can use in Notion, you can try other function too to customize your own system with your liking.
Finally, you already can input your daily expense, this is the example of basic financial tracking system.
I think with all of these, you already can make your own financial tracking system. But, it feels like a standard Excel or Word, isn’t it? Let me show you a bit more advanced Notion’s feature, and also the reason why Notion is my most favorite app when it comes to productivity stuff.
3. Database — Relation and rollup
The first time when I saw this feature, it feels like SQL but in simpler way. If you come from CS Degree, it will be easier for you to understand this. If not, don’t worry, it’s not really hard to understand.
Notion also has a dark mode. I will be using dark mode in this section just to separate the basic feature with a more advanced feature.
Relation is a feature to connect two tables. That means, you can see a table’s content with different perspective, depends on what table you use. I think it will be easier to explain it with example. I will change Payment Method column format from the table we made earlier to relation, and make a Payment Method table.
Now I will try to input Payment Method in Daily Life Table. There will be a list from Payment Method’s table data.
Automatically, the relation is also made in Payment Method table. So with this, you can see your data with different perspective.
A little tips, if the column’s format is Title, you can put an icon on it to make it looks better.
That’s the basic of relation, just play around with it and you will be a master in no time. It’s pretty easy, and yet very powerful.
Rollup is like an complement of Relation, it can create a new data from all of data you already have. For example, you can count how many times you’re using OVO as a payment method, or you can sum the total price of your expense using GoPay, and many more. I will give an example using the first two I mention above.
Here’s the result, easy and impressive, right?
Since I like to keep it clean, I will move Payment Method table to new page (Database). You can customize and make more relation if you want, and you can list it in Database page to make it looks cleaner and easier to maintain.
Finally, you already can make a daily expenses tracking system with a very dynamic function, and also very easy to customize depends on what you need.
Other than this, you also can use Notion in so many ways, especially if you’re a student. Make a super organized note will help you a lot to study. In my case as a developer, I also like to write a note about stuff that relate to my work, it looks much better rather than I write it in regular notebook / note app.
Additional advice about money from a Millenial to Millenials
Don’t use money recklessly, keep in mind we all want to have an easier life in the future. Never change your life style even if you got a lot of money, it could be your investment in disaster. Don’t forget to always saving money, even if it’s only little, a good habit will never betray you.
If you have any question to ask, just comment here or message me on Twitter or Instagram (@mrizkiaiman).
Thanks for reading