Your Guide to the Val Marlene Creative Google Drive Accounting Templates
Managing your finances as a creative can be really challenging. Creatives are often stereotypically more of a right-brain crew, which can often make numbers really hard to understand. Add the fact that accounting processes and terminology are not the most clear or natural concepts just fuel the fire.
But the hard truth is, if you own your own business you HAVE to get it figured out. You NEED to know what your expenses are, what you can and can’t afford and what you need to charge in order to make all those ends meet. This is not something a bookkeeper or tax accountant does for you. This is the job of the CFO (chief financial officer), which if you’re an entrepreneur, is just one of the million hats you have to wear.
It’s important for you to know, this did not come naturally to me. I AM the stereotypical creative who has a million ideas, has a hard time focusing and still uses her fingers to count sometimes. 🤪
What does that mean for you? That truly 1000% if I can do it so can you.
It may not be without a little blood, sweat and tears, but you really can do this.
Because of who I am as a person, I have worked really hard through many tears and mind explosions to create Google Drive templates that have helped me to price, plan and manage the numbers in my business.
Let’s walk through them together!
Click here to get access to my templates! Make sure to follow the instructions in the Read Me First document to make a copy of each spreadsheet to your Google Drive account. It’s important to rename and personalize these sheets so that you know what they are. I recommend having an accounting or finance folder where you have all these spreadsheets saved.
Please note that I am not an accountant or CPA and these templates should not be the *only* resources you use in your business to manage your finances. They are merely planning and projecting tools to help you understand what you need to bring in financially to reach your goals.
I highly recommend you hire a tax accountant at minimum and then consider working the cost of a bookkeeper into your business budget when you can. Outsourcing the areas outside your zone of genius is one of the best ways to maximize your time and brain space.
How to determine your percentages
These spreadsheets are heavily based on the Profit First accounting method. I highly recommend you read or listen to the book to have a better understanding of how it works. Even if you don’t read the book, you can still use these spreadsheets. Either way, you will need to determine what your percentages need to be in order to cover your costs and pay yourself a salary.
There is no quick and easy formula to tell you how to set your percentages. You have to look at the different factors and use those to test and tweak the numbers. This may take several tries to get right, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away!
Here’s a quick look at my recommended steps to follow to set your percentages:
Fill out the overhead expense breakdown to determine what amount your business percentage needs to cover just to keep running as it is.
Fill out the job expense breakdown to determine what amount your business percentage needs to cover per each offering.
Fill out the Annual Estimator using the data you found in the job expense breakdown, listing each offering and the corresponding details.
Look at the totals in the Annual Estimator and ask yourself these questions:
Does the Salary total cover what I need to pay myself in one year? To determine this, you would divide this number by 12 to get a monthly salary amount. That number needs to cover whatever personal monthly expenses you have. If you’re not sure what your monthly personal expenses are, you need to set up a personal budget. See my How to Start Budgeting blog post to help you get started.
Does the Business total cover what I need to pay my Annual Overhead Total as listed in the Overhead Expense Breakdown?
If your answer to either of those questions is ‘No’ (or if you would like it to be more or less) then you need to make some or all of the following three changes:
Increase the quantities of some or all of your offerings
Increase the price of some or all of your offerings (you will also have to go back to the Job Expense Breakdown to do this)
Tweak your percentages to redistribute how much is allocated to each category, just make sure they all add up to 100%!
Reduce your expenses in either the Job Expense Breakdown or the Overhead Breakdown (or both!) If you do reduce job expenses, you’ll also need to reflect that change in the Annual Estimator.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to make sure you have the capacity to handle the quantities you set in the annual estimator. This step in the process can easily be missed, but is essential to the long term sustainability of your business.
Overhead Expense Breakdown
What it is
A log of all the expenses you pay in your business regardless of how many clients/bookings/sales you have.
Why it’s important
In order to cover your costs in your pricing, you need to know what all your costs are, including your monthly and annual expenses that for our uses we are calling ‘overhead.’
This sheet is a great starting point. After filling it out, you’ll have a clear picture of all of your expenses on an annual and monthly basis. After completing this spreadsheet, you should know how much money you need to allocate on an annual and monthly basis to cover all your expenses that are not directly associated with a job or product. It’s important to understand that your overhead does not include expenses that you only incur if you book a job or sell a product.
Another benefit of this sheet is that it helps you break down your annual expenses into a monthly amount. This allows you to save throughout the year for your annual expenses so you’re ready for those big, once-a-year bills. I’ve found that annual expenses are often bundled in the same month. For example, you may purchase a few subscriptions while Black Friday deals are happening, so November might be a high expense month. If you are expecting and saving for these expenses throughout the year, it won’t be as overwhelming to pay that bill.
Numbers to Note
The Annual Overhead Total and Monthly Breakdown numbers at the bottom of the sheet are very helpful. The Annual Overhead Total is the full dollar amount that needs to be covered by your business income over the course of a year. This number will help you decide what your business breakdown percentages will be (see below for more information on this). The Monthly Breakdown number is that annual total broken down by month. If you’re just starting out, you may not be able to save for your full annual expenses right away. That’s okay, the most important thing is to pay the monthly subscriptions when they’re due and save as much as you can for your annual expenses. If you have a busier season and are able to put more money into savings for your annual bills during that time, do it!
Your Ultimate Goal: Cover your Monthly Breakdown number with income each month.
Annual Expenses: expenses you pay once a year for an annual subscription, product or service.
Expense (Column A): company name/description of annual expense.
Category (Column B): you can use whatever categories you like for tracking purposes, but I try to coordinate these with my tax categories.
Amount (Column C): total dollar amount for the bill.
Recurring (Column D): how often you are charged.
Next Payment (Column E): the month (or better yet the exact date) that your next payment is due. This helps you to avoid being surprised by a big expense and to see what months have higher expenses due than others.
Notes (Column F): this is a space to write down any changes or notes you want to remember. For example, maybe you are discontinuing the service, switching to a new provider or upgrading your account and therefore increasing your cost. A good rule of thumb is to ask: Keep, Replace or Cancel?
Annually Recurring Expense Total: this total will automatically update when you change the amounts for each expense. It is the total expense for all of your annual subscriptions.
Monthly Breakdown: the total you should be saving each month to cover your annual expenses.
Monthly Expenses: subscriptions with monthly payments or any products/services that you pay for each month.
Monthly Recurring Expense Total: total monthly expenses. This is the amount you pay each month for your monthly bills.
Annual Breakdown: the total amount you are spending on monthly subscriptions and spending over the span of a year.
Annual Overhead Total: the total dollar amount that needs to be covered by your business income each year
Monthly Breakdown: the total dollar amount that needs to be covered by your business income each month
Job Expense Breakdown
What it is
A breakdown of what your offerings include, the expenses associated with that offering and how to distribute the income to cover your different financial responsibilities. Job expenses are expenses you only have if you book that job or sell that product.
Why it’s important
In order to cover your costs in your pricing and to make sure you’re paying yourself enough, you need to know what all your costs are and how that income breaks down into your different categories. This spreadsheet can really help clarify how your pricing breaks down on an individual product or service level.
If you aren’t sure what your pricing should be, this spreadsheet is for you! It will help you think through every expense you have if you get a job. In the process, it also gives you the data you need in order to use the Annual Estimator (coming up next!) to figure out how many of each offering you need to sell in order to pay yourself, cover your expenses, and save for your taxes.
Disclaimer: this sheet can be really overwhelming if you aren’t a photographer or wedding vendor. There are a lot of expenses listed here, but depending on your business they may not all be relevant for you. The purpose of this sheet is to give you an idea of everything you could be spending when you book a client to help ensure your pricing is covering your costs. For those of you with just a few expenses, there is a second sheet with a simplified version that might be a better fit for you! Just remember that everything in yellow you can change or delete. Remove any yellow expense rows that you don’t need to declutter your view.
Numbers to Note
You’ll notice that this spreadsheet is functioning off of percentages. This percentage concept is based on the Profit First Method which is all about making sure you’re profiting in your business, covering taxes, paying yourself, and then spending money in your business with what’s left. Every business is different, so there is no cut and dry breakdown of percentages that you should use. You need to run your numbers and decide what your percentages need to be in order to cover all your responsibilities (overhead expenses, job expenses, taxes and paying yourself).
Your Ultimate Goal: Make sure your pricing covers all your costs and pays you what you need and deserve!
This sheet has different ‘package’ options with filler data, but it’s important that you personalize and replace the package titles with your product or service names.
Taxes: the money you need to set aside from each package purchase to pay in taxes. This is calculated using the percentage in Column E, which you should adjust based on your tax accountant’s recommendation
The average person doesn’t need 30% of their *gross* income saved for taxes, 30% of the net is usually enough. If you refuse to get a tax accountant, you can calculate this percentage by looking at your last 3 years’ taxes. Take your taxes paid (for the whole year) divided by your gross income for that year (you can find these numbers on your tax forms). Then go with the highest percentage you find from those 3 years. I like to set this percentage a little bit higher because I’d rather have more money than I need for taxes than not enough.
Business: the money that goes back into your business to cover overhead.
This formula uses the % in Column E and then ALSO subtracts all the expenses you listed below to give you an accurate number of what actual usable income your business is making after the expenses specific to the job.
Salary: the money you will set aside for your salary from each package you sell. This is calculated using the percentage in Column E.
Profit: the money you set aside as profit from each package you sell. This is calculated using the percentage in Column E. Read or listen to Profit First to get a better understanding of what Profit is.
Credit Card Processing Fee: the fee you pay each time you process someone’s credit card payment.
It’s easy to forget expenses like this, but as you can see in the sheet, they can make a big difference in your income depending on the size of the purchase.
The formula for this is hard keyed into the cells in Row 9, make sure to change the formula to reflect your credit card processing fees.
Rows 10+: the expense descriptions and prices should be personalized and changed based on what your offerings include.
Package Price: the full price you choose to charge your client for each package. All the percentages in rows 5-9 are calculated based on this amount.
Job Expenses: the total of the job specific expenses you have listed above.
There are additional tabs to help you break down any expenses that will include multiple costs, like a booking gift. The things you enter here are NOT set up to filter into the front sheet automatically. They are simply an optional resource for budgeting.
What it is
A way to project and estimate what quantity of each of your offerings you need to sell in order to meet your salary goal and business overhead costs as well as a quick breakdown of how much money will go to each of your categories based on the percentages you set.
Why it’s important
In order to have a full picture and understanding of how your prices and percentages break down, you need to add up all the costs and income for a year (or month) at a time. This spreadsheet helps bring all the data together to make sure your pricing is right based on your financial needs and goals. Some people prefer to use this for a full year, some prefer to use it month-by-month. Either way, it’s important to understand that this is a planning tool using estimates and projections.
Numbers to Note
The data you compiled in the Overhead Expense Breakdown and the Job Expense Breakdown will help you fill out this sheet. This sheet combines the data so you can actually estimate what a year needs to look like in order to meet your business goals. This is how I budget. I make sure the business total covers my monthly overhead and monthly savings for my annual expenses. The salary total is what I can pay myself over the span of the year and the profit is what gets paid to me as a bonus for owning the business (see Profit First for more on this). If you aren’t sure what your salary should be, it’s time to start a personal budget.
To use this sheet, you will need to enter in your:
Offerings (products or services)
Job Expenses (which you found by filling out the Job Expense Breakdown sheet, see the job expenses line at the bottom)
Quantity (you will adjust this to calculate how many of each offering you need to sell in order to reach your goal totals)
The rest of the sheet is automatically calculating (be very careful when adding/removing rows as the formulas are somewhat complex – if you think you may have messed up the formulas, email me – email@example.com – and I will help you fix it!)
One added benefit of this sheet is that it will help you determine if you will have money left over to invest in your business or to give yourself a raise. If you take the Business Total from the Annual Estimator sheet and subtract your ‘Business Expense Annual Total’ from the Overhead Expense Breakdown, you’ll be able to see if you have any money leftover.
After you have entered all of your data into this sheet, you can adjust the quantities and percentages to reach the salary, tax savings, business, and profit totals that you need.
Your Ultimate Goal: To know how many of each offering you need to sell in order to cover your salary and business overhead.
Definitions: *using the original Annual Estimator – specific columns and cells may vary on other versions
Product/Service Offering (Column A): the different packages or products you identified on the Job Expense Breakdown
Price (Column B): the price for each offering. You can use the Job Expense Breakdown to help you figure out what pricing should be for each offering based on expenses.
These values need to be manually added and updated per item
Job Expenses (Column C): the total job specific expenses from your Job Expense Breakdown spreadsheet.
These values need to be manually entered and updated as you make changes to the Job Expense Breakdown.
Quantity (Column D): the total number you plan to sell.
Columns E-H: these numbers are being auto-calculated based on the data from each offering and the percentage of the total designated. To change these totals, you can change the percentages in Row 4 or the quantities in column D.
Row 5: the sum for each category calculated using the quantity and percentage.
Income Disbursement Calculator
What it is
A calculator to tell you where your money needs to go when you get paid.
Why it’s important
It’s one thing to complete these spreadsheets and use them to project and calculate – it’s another thing entirely to follow through with the system. This calculator makes it easy peasy for you to calculate and disburse your income. If you’re using my spreadsheets, which were built based on the Profit First method, then you’re separating out your income in percentages. This calculator will tell you where all your funds should go, assuming you have separate bank accounts for each category. I call this step disbursing your money. You should be doing this on a regular basis. I recommend monthly or twice every month depending on how often income hits your account.
Numbers to Note
In order for this calculator to work for you, you need to make sure your percentages are correct and consistent across all your spreadsheets. You also need to make sure your credit and transaction fees are correct in column A. It is currently set at 2.9% + $0.30 fee/transaction as that is the industry standard, but not all companies follow the same fee structure.
Your Ultimate Goal
This is purely an in-the-moment calculator to make it easy to disburse your income to the corresponding percentage categories so that you don’t have to do the math 10 million times 😉
Gross Income (Row 4): the total income you have earned during a self-determined period of time. Add up all the payments that have been deposited into your account for that time period (before credit fees have been taken out) and put that total in D4.
When you enter this total in, the other numbers will auto calculate.
Transaction Quantity/Fee (Rows 5-6): If you had more than one transaction and your payment processor charges a transaction fee, you will need to update this number in order to see the exact total fee. This is automatically taken out before the money is deposited into your account, so you won’t have to do anything with this amount – but it does give you a more accurate picture of how much money will be going into your account.
Credit Fee (Row 7): the amount you’re charged for processing the sale from your payment processing company (ie: Square, Stripe, PayPal).
You will need to update column A if your credit card processing fees differ from 2.9% + $0.30/transaction
Salary (Row 8): the amount you will put into your salary savings account that you will use to pay yourself in the future.
Taxes (Row 9): the total amount you should put into your tax savings account to save for taxes
Business Income (Row 10): the total amount of your income that will stay in your business checking account to pay for your expenses.
This formula subtracts the Credit + Transaction Fees from the business income percentage. If you make changes, be careful with the formula!
Profit (Row 11): the total amount you should put into your profit account, some of which should be paid out to you as the owner quarterly.
Total Disbursements (Row 13): this should be the same as the gross income you input in Row 4. If not, check your equations and percentages to ensure you’re accounting for all the money.
What it is
The Financial Snapshot is a summary view of your current financial situation focusing on your salary and business accounts. It provides a quick look at how many months of expenses and salary you will have covered at any given time based on the income and expenses you expect to have. It takes into consideration what you had in your accounts before starting the spreadsheet and the income/expense estimates you enter in by month for the year. Just like all my spreadsheets, it uses percentages based on the Profit First Method and those percentages need to match what you set on your other spreadsheets.
Why it’s important
For many businesses, there are busy seasons and slow seasons, which mean you don’t have consistent income year round. This means you need to plan and save for the slower months. This spreadsheet helps show you how many months you will be able to pay yourself and cover your business expenses if you follow the Profit First percentage system and pay yourself a set amount each month.
Numbers to Note
On the Summary tab, you’ll need to enter your beginning account balances and percentages. Next, using the Data Entry tab, you will enter your salary amount, all booked and guaranteed income and all expected expenses. Then, the Summary tab will use that data to show you how much money you will have left each month after paying those expenses. This means you need to be as accurate as possible on the Data Entry tab and be committed to keeping this up to date so you have the most accurate view. Make sure you delete all filler data, especially the numbers. It’s okay if your monthly difference is negative (red), as long as your Business Balance and Salary Balance rows are in the positive (green). This will likely happen if you have seasonal or inconsistent income.
Your Ultimate Goal
To know how many months you will be able to pay yourself and cover your business expenses based on what you already have booked at any given time.
Important: There are a lot of complicated formulas built into this sheet, the only rows you should change on this tab are Rows 11 and 12.
Expected Income (Row 5): income you are expecting to make each month.
This formula is adding up all the income you entered for the corresponding month on the Data Entry tab. To change this number, adjust the income totals on the Data tab for each corresponding month.
Expected Expenses (Row 6): expenses you are expecting to incur each month.
This formula is adding up all the expenses you entered for the corresponding month on the Data Entry tab. To change this number, adjust the expense totals in the Data tab for each corresponding month.
Note: You should use the separate Overhead Expense Breakdown template to help you figure out your overhead expense total.
Monthly Difference (Row 7): the difference between your income and expenses by month.
This formula is taking your Income minus your Expenses.
If it is negative, it will format red. If it is positive, it will format green for a quick glance as to whether you’re covering your business costs that month or not.
A red/negative number means you need to figure out how to bring in more income to make up the difference to cover your expenses for that month OR that income from a previous month will need to roll over to cover that overage.
Business Balance (Row 8): the amount you should have left in your business checking at the end of each month.
This is the balance you want to pay attention to for your business expenses.
This formula is telling you whether or not you’re covering your costs based on the whole year as some months you may make more than others and that excess may cover a shortage from another month.
For Example: Before changing the sheet and inputting your numbers, you can see that it’s alerting you that you’re going to be fine until May. This lets you know you need more income to come in before or during May to cover your May expenses.
Salary Balance (Row 9): the amount you should have left in your salary savings account after paying yourself at the end of each month.
This formula will tell you how much salary savings you will have banked, assuming you set aside the designated salary percentage every month. This is a great way to see how many months of your salary is covered at any given moment and what months you might be low.
The salary amount you set in the Data Entry tab for each month is being subtracted.
For Example: Before changing the sheet and inputting your numbers, the sheet is indicating that this person is able to pay themselves every month and beyond even when some months their monthly difference is negative.
As you may have noticed, even though the Business Balance in some of these months is negative (aka they need more income to cover their expenses), they’re still able to pay themselves. That is only because they are saving 35% to salary and not paying themselves more than the salary they’ve defined in the spreadsheet
If they increase their salary amount, some months may go negative and change to red. This indicates that you paid yourself more than you could afford.
End Goal: you want to make sure you can pay yourself throughout the year based on what you’re making throughout the year. You can use this sheet to consider giving yourself a raise, it will help you see if you can afford it based on your estimated income and expenses for the year.
For Example: Before changing the sheet and inputting your numbers, this person is gradually increasing their salary amount about every 6 months.
% of Gross to Salary (Cell D11): percentage of gross income you are going to set aside for your salary.
I have this set at 35% as a starting point, but it’s important that you set your percentages based on your business and personal expenses and needs.
% of Gross to Business (Cell D12): percentage of gross income you are going to set aside to cover business expenses.
I have this set at 30% as a starting point, but it’s important that you set your percentages based on your business and personal expenses and needs.
% of Gross to Taxes (Cell H11): percentage of gross income you are going to set aside to pay your taxes.
I have this set at 25% as a starting point, but it’s important that you set this percentage based on your actual tax bracket and estimated income and expenses. I highly recommend consulting with a tax accountant.
% of Gross to Profit (Cell H12): the percentage of gross income you are going to set aside as profit for your business
I have this set at 10% as the book, Profit First, recommends trying to get to at least 5-10%, but it’s important that you set your percentages based on your business and personal expenses and needs. Michalowicz recommends you at a bare minimum set this to 1-2% and increase by 1% quarterly until you get to your target percentage.
Salary Banked at Start (Cell L11 ): the amount you have set aside specifically for your salary when you first start using this spreadsheet.
Business Banked at Start (Cell L12): the available amount you have in your business checking when you first start using this spreadsheet. This number MUST reflect the actual usable money.
Data Entry Tab
This sheet is broken down by month. As there are two years, you’ll see January – June of Year 1 first, then scroll to see July – December Year 1, and then January – June Year 2 and July – December Year 2.
White cells are the only cells you should edit and you should not remove or add rows as it could break the formulas.
Expected Salary (Rows 6, 35, 64 & 93): the monthly salary you are planning to pay yourself by month
You can have different amounts each month. I recommend keeping your salary consistent, but you can, of course, decide to give yourself a raise.
If you are considering giving yourself a raise, this is where you can adjust the amount by month and see how it affects your financials on the front page.
Expected Income Sources and Amount (Rows 9-18, 38-47, 67-76 & 96-105): an estimate of the income you’ll bring in by month.
These should be in general categories and estimates of what your income will be by month. Some examples of categories are: Products, Services, Affiliate, Education, but you should customize the names to fit your income types.
This spreadsheet should not be used to track income and expenses.
The point is to have an at-a-glance snapshot to know which months are going to be low and when you may need to take on extra work for more income and to know when you can give yourself a raise.
Estimate as accurately as possible, keeping in mind that it’s better to estimate low than high for income.
Expected Expenses Source and Amount (Rows 21-30, 50-59, 79-88 & 108-117): the expenses you are expecting to incur in your business by month.
Many expenses should be covered in overhead, but this sheet allows for irregular or other expenses.
The first row of each Expected Expense section has an auto-calculating Credit Fees cell. This is auto-calculating your estimated credit processing fees assuming your provider charges 2.9%. You will need to manually update this formula if your provider’s fees are different. If you have a significant number of transaction fees on top of the credit processing % fee, I recommend estimating those in the following rows.
You should be using the Overhead Expense Breakdown spreadsheet to determine your overhead expense amount. That sheet acts more like a budget and will allow you to drill down to more detail.
Estimate expenses as accurately as possible, keeping in mind that it’s better to estimate high rather than low for expenses.
Financial Snapshot(Multiple % Sets)
What it is The Financial Snapshot (Multiple % Sets) is an expanded version of the original Financial Snapshot (a summary view of your current financial situation focusing on your salary and business accounts) designed for those who need to use multiple percentage sets in their business.
What’s different This version had multiple Data Entry tabs for up to 3 different percentage sets. You will need to rename each tab and update each sheet to clearly identify which percentage set is which.
Your Monthly Salary amount is now located on the Summary tab and your percentages are located on each unique Data Entry tab.
Everything else should function just like the original.
There you have it, friend! I know it’s A LOT to take in, so take it one spreadsheet at a time and do not hesitate to email me with any questions! Remember, it’s YOUR responsibility to know your numbers and to plan wisely. Regardless of your personality type or math savvy, you CAN do this. It may not be without some growing pains, but you can and you MUST get there! Take it from me, the girl who still struggles with mental math some days (okay, most days lol)…you got this! Cheering for you, friend!
I'm Val! Coach for creatives like you who are ready to be healthier, happier and more empowered women who love the business you run, the people you serve and the life you live!
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