Disclaimer: This website is monetized by ads and other affiliates. As such, this article may contain affiliate links. If you decide to use them, you can sleep easier knowing you're helping me give my cats a better life. :) I really appreciate your support!
Staying organized is extremely important when manufacturing spend. Why? Because, the point of manufactured spending is to move around large amounts of money in a way that earns heaps of rewards. When cycling those thousands of dollars through multiple channels, there is a risk. If any of that money magically disappeared, that would be a bad day. That’s why keeping track of
your the bank’s money is a vital process in this game.
Quick Note: If you’re a disorganized person, I highly suggest staying away from this game.
If you don’t already have a way to keep track of your manufactured spending, don’t worry. This post will show you how to do it. More like, this post will show you how I do it, which I think works pretty well.
I file every manufactured spending related item I come across, including, but not limited to, gift cards, vanillas, money orders, and receipts. That way, if I ever need to reference a purchase, I can. Here’s what my MS box looks like:
It may look like a mess in this picture, but I can assure you it’s not. I organize every vanilla, money order, and gift card by date and with their corresponding receipt. My process works like this:
If you don’t already have a file box, you can get one on Amazon. They’re super cheap.
Disclaimer: That is an affiliate link. Thanks for the support!
I use YNAB for my day to day budget, but I also use it to budget my MS. That program makes it extremely easy to track credit card transactions, money orders coming in and out, gift cards, Paypal, and everything in between. It’s an all around awesome budgeting program. If you want to learn more about tracking MS with YNAB, check out this link.
For individual transactions and tracking my monthly accumulation of points, I use Google Sheets. I’m pretty sure everyone knows what that is already, but if not, it’s Google’s answer to Microsoft Excel. Sheets is not near as robust or feature rich as Excel, but it gets the job done and it can be easily accessed from anywhere. In fact, I’ll usually enter in my transactions on my phone immediately after making them. It makes the process very streamlined. Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like:
You will likely have to edit the spreadsheet to work with your cards and programs, but that’s pretty easily done. Here’s how you do it:
The formula for the “Program” box looks like, =If(H2=“CARD“,“PROGRAM“, “”).
Every number box under “Earned This Month” has a formula attached to it. This is because the boxes automatically pull the points you earn per transaction into the monthly total. You will likely want to edit this box to work with the programs you have programmed into the program formula. Can I say program any more times in that sentence?
Here’s what the formula looks like, =SUMIF(I:I,“Ultimate Rewards”,G:G).
This formula adds every box in column G that says Ultimate Rewards in its corresponding column I to the total. So, if you add more programs with the previous formula, you will want to change the Ultimate Rewards part of this formula.
Quick Note: The Cash Back section under “Earned This Month” automatically divides the total number by 100 to convert the points/miles to dollars.
You can download the spreadsheet here.
There isn’t a perfect MS tracking solution for everyone, so if the above methods don’t sound like something you want to do, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to track everything the way I do, you just need to keep track of it some how.
If you already have a system in place, how’s it work? What do you use to track everything?