Make a better budget with Airtable and the new web clipper block
With the new year rapidly approaching, it’s a great time to upgrade your personal finance management. Here’s how you can get started quickly with a simple base and track expenses with the new web clipper block.
The basic budget base
A budget, in essence, isn’t much more complex than a dated list of money coming in (income) and money going out (expenses). The base below offers a two-table starting point where you can specify income and expenses and associate them with specific budgets. As you’ll see in the example below, you can set up a “budget period” in the Budgets table to create monthly timeframes along with their income and expenses.
Those periods aren’t limited to a single month. Each record in the Budget table represents a specific timeframe of your choosing. Adding an income or expense (in the Income & Expenses table) subtracts the expenses from the income in each period to determine your costs and remaining assets. Thanks to some helpful formulas, you’ll find a summary of breakdown and expenses in the Budget table. In the Income & Expenses table you’ll also find a period balance associate with each record so you can always see how much money you have left for that period every time you add a new item.
You can use this base to set up a traditional budget to plan your spending for any recurring periods of time. You can also use it to track and categorize expenses for taxes and/or create an anti-budget if you find it more effective to keep a close eye on your spending.
Although the base is designed and set up for personal finances, the same format works just fine for individual business budgets. With a few small changes, you could specify a department for each budget period and create a more comprehensive corporate budget as well.
Copy the template into your Airtable account using the Copy base button above and you can mold it into the specific financial tool you need.
How linked records upgrade your budget options
Although the budget base takes a simple but versatile approach, it still gains a lot of capabilities by using linked records to link its two tables together. Linked record fields allow tables to share data with other tables while keeping them simple and uncluttered. The relationship in the budget base allows a direct association of a budget period with individual income and expense records. The Income & Expenses can feed only the relevant items to the Budgets table so it can handle the math and even return the results.
That’s because linked records unlock a few of your base’s superpowers by enabling the use of lookup and rollup fields that either display the contents of a linked record’s field or perform apply a formula to a series of linked records (respectively). The Budgets table uses three rollup fields to calculate each period’s income, expense, and overall total.
The income and expense total fields also use a special implementation called a conditional rollup. Instead of rolling up a standard linked record field (e.g. a number), the field acquires its information based on the output of a conditional formula in the linked table (Income & Expenses). That conditional formula asks a simple question: is this line item income or an expense? One formula field returns a number only when an item is an expense and another does the same for income. The corresponding rollup fields in the Budgets table can then display the sum total of the numbers they receive only ever get line item amounts that match their type.
You’ll find these conditional formulas amongst the Income & Expenses table’s hidden fields if you want to see them in action.
If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage these useful features and more, check out the power user’s guide for a comprehensive overview of the most versatile features available in Airtable.
Track your expenses across the web
Airtable Pro accounts have access to a modular toolbox called Blocks that can simplify and even automate all kinds of common workflows. The web clipper block has many applications it can quickly acquire content and add it to any Airtable base from any web page you encounter. In the budget base, we can use it to easily track expenses.
For example, whenever you make an online purchase, you can use web clipper to take a screenshot of the receipt or invoice page and save it to your base as an expense. , This makes it easy to categorize an expense right when it happens and have a receipt instantly associated with it so you’re fully prepared for tax season.
The budget base already has a web clipper block set up, so you can simply open it up and click the button to add it to the web clipper Chrome extension. If you haven’t used web clipper before, learn how to get started in this support article.
How do you budget better?
This base offers a simple start to better management of your personal finances so you can build upon its foundation and create the perfect tool for you. If you have a great idea you want to make, submit it to the personal budget project challenge where we’ll highlight the best bases from the community and award a few prizes, too.