Personal finance—lessons learned from an online shop

Mastering personal finances can often start with something as simple as holding a garage sale or opening an online shop. Keeping track of what it takes to manage sales helps you figure out what’s needed to make sure your own finances stay in order.

Sisters Devin, Quinn, and Alexis decided to try their luck with an online shop when they were left with a house full of antiques after their grandmother passed away. They started Bachelor’s Button Vintage to sell all the marvelous old things they inherited but didn’t need.

Sisters Devin, Quinn, and Alexis of Bachelor’s Button Vintage.

Each sister brought her unique skills to running the online store. Quinn, a teacher, used her writing skills to write product descriptions. Photographer Alexis lent her ability to create great shots needed for their items, and Devin added her design experience to put a shop together. Their collective experience made them realize how important their own personal finances were and how a tool like Excel could really help them keep track of their own budgets.

They’ve found that running a small business can wreak havoc on personal finances if they’re not mindful of how fast expenses can add up.

“You have to be especially careful when you’re paying for a lot of things out of your own pocket. Of course, you want to grow your business, but you also need to strike a balance with your personal life,” says Quinn.

Work, friends, and family keep the sisters all super busy, so they like to keep it as simple as possible.

“We use Excel to track our monthly expenditures tied to our Etsy shop, flea market booths, and marketing efforts,” says Alexis.

“We’ll never be finance gurus, but we have learned a few things about work-life balance,” says Alexis. “It seems overwhelming when you look at the big picture, but you just have to tackle it one item at a time, day by day. We would say to first decide what you want to do and start with the fun stuff to get you excited—like coming up with a name and a logo and researching your products. It also helps not having a hard deadline to launch so it takes the pressure off to do it right. Excel was the perfect way to get all the information on one page and share it,” she adds. They also find that at work or at home, their to-do lists can get pretty long, and they soon realized how important it is to stay on top of things and complete tasks right away or make note of it in the moment. Devin, in particular, likes to color-code items in the monthly budget.

“Graphs and charts make it easy to understand where we’re at and where we’re headed at a glance. We keep things pretty basic—red for out of stock, green for sold, and yellow for items listed for sale,” she says.

Between inventory, household expenses, mortgages, and car payments, there’s so much data that can inform financial planning. Excel helps them visualize their accounts and expenses, so they can keep track of their progress and make better financial decisions.

The sisters are eager to use Excel’s money management features, like Financial Vision, Budget Wheel, or Bill Paid Tracker.

Here are some tips from Alexis, Devin, and Quinn to help you with your personal finances:

Strike while the iron is hot—Track your spending in the moment, on the go, wherever you are.

Focus on what matters to you—In their case, the sisters agreed to set their shop’s sales goals to reflect their personal goals, so they could enjoy treats like vacationing in the tropics during freezing Chicago winters.

Visualize your future—Add visuals around key goals to remind you where you’re headed.

While starting Bachelor’s Button Vintage has taught them how business and personal finance are two sides of the same coin—Excel was the tool that got them all on the same page. For Devin, Alexis, and Quin, tracking the past, staying mindful of the present, and saving for the future are the keys to their financial success.

If you have Office 365, take a look at our Excel templates to help you stay on top of your finances.

Visit Bachelor’s Button Vintage on Facebook and take a peek at their online shop.