For busy business professionals, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture without a financial dashboard amidst the flurry of paperwork, i.e. bank statements, tax records, investment and retirement account statements, loan documents, and other financial records. Even with the proliferation of e-statements, tracking and organizing emails isn’t much easier.

In essence, a financial dashboard tracks several key metrics, such as savings, debt and goals, in order to provide an overall look at your financial health. The greatest benefit is that the tool readily shows where you are financially, including how things are going over time.  That is important in planning for spending, saving, investing and retirement. You can create a basic financial dashboard using a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. The process involves creating different columns for each major aspect of your financial life and entering the relevant information. For many people, the process of creating the dashboard can be just as enlightening as the finished product. Below are several key “buckets” to address:

Professional and/or life-stage milestones:

Life changes can be disruptive to the best laid financial plans. Getting married, having a child, starting a business, and retiring are the most significant milestones, but family health changes and changing jobs, can have a financial impact.

Savings:

Long-term cash/liquid savings should have its own column. Unlike investments, these funds can be accessed quickly and should not fluctuate with market conditions. Since the dashboard is for future planning purposes, most financial advisers recommend leaving out short-term savings.

Investments:

For many, this part of the dashboard will be the most labor intensive. Investments should ideally be sub-divided into how much you are contributing and how much the portfolio is growing. You can also further divide the category by type of investment, i.e. 401(k), mutual funds, brokerage accounts, alternative investments, in order to see how each is performing and make adjustments as needed.

Debt:

For those approaching retirement or otherwise seeking to pay down debt, it is imperative to track mortgage payments, student loan debt, credit card bills, business loans. List current balances as well as expected pay off dates. Knowing when certain debts will be eliminated can help determine how the funds can be allocated in the future.
If a DIY dashboard sounds daunting, templates are available online. In addition, there is always “an app for that.” There are several applications, such as Mint, that promise to keep track of financial statements without having to visit each website to track down the information. In addition to being constantly updated, online financial dashboards also offer a number of useful extras, such as fancy charts and graphs, that show how your money comes in and goes out. Related Article: Top 5 Legal Mistakes Start-ups Make Ten Best Apps For Small Business Owners Crowdfunding Crash Course For Small Business Owners Business Productivity: Wi- Fi in the Sky Is It A Good Time To Start A Business? Selling Your Business? Tips For Surviving Due Diligence Does Your Small Business LLC Have An Operating Agreement?