Your financial dashboard

When you think of a financial dashboard, you generally think about financials related to an organization – balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and other business finances documents. These impressive spreadsheets and charts help business owners know when they can afford to open a new location, buy additional products as well as any other operational moves impacting the bottom line. A financial dashboard is a snapshot of an organization’s overall financial wellbeing.

In honor of National Financial Literacy Month, I encourage you to create your own personal financial dashboard. After all, as the household CFO, your job is to manage your family’s budget and spending plan in the same manner as a financial manager overseas the financials for an organization.

If you haven’t assigned a family CFO, that’s the first step in creating a financial dashboard. The family CFO is responsible for:

  • Paying the bills, track all spending, and manage savings accounts.
  • Scheduling family meetings and keeping everyone in the loop on the current financial condition.
  • Making tweaks to the budget and spending plan when appropriate.

Second, you’ll want to gather the following:

  • Household expenses – include everything from your mortgage or rent payments to the average amount spent on groceries.
  • Savings balances – this would all savings accounts such as emergency savings, general savings, and retirement savings.
  • Liabilities – open loans and other financial obligations including credit and charge card balances.
  • Assets – a list of all tangible investments including home values, and available retirement funds.
  • Borrowing Power – available credit, credit score, and debt to income ratio

Before actually laying out the data, you should consider your short and long-term financial goals. Setting and achieving financial goals is one of the primary reasons for having a financial dashboard. The other reasons include simply knowing where you stand financially, and being prepared for any financial setbacks.

Use all the gathered information to develop your financial dashboard. There are tons of templates for building a financial dashboard. You can create a simple spreadsheet that is managed manually or you can purchase or register online for a third-party template that is updated automatically.

No matter the system that you choose, your financial dashboard should give you a clear picture of your current financial situation and wellbeing. The goal of your financial dashboard is to serve the same purpose as a financial dashboard for an organization. You should be able to quickly determine your ability to plan a vacation from year to year, best time to upgrade appliances or purchase a new car. You should also be able to make adjustments to your spending and savings plans as appropriate.

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.