Touchstones are projects that illustrate your comprehension of the course material, help you refine skills, and demonstrate application of knowledge. You can work on a Touchstone anytime, but you can’t submit it until you have completed the unit’s Challenges. Once you’ve submitted a Touchstone, it will be graded and counted toward your final course score.
One way to check your progress towards your financial goals is to conduct a personal financial analysis. This will help you see how well you have stayed on track with your finances over time. Using technology can help you stay organized and help you visualize financial data, uncover trends, and effectively communicate your findings.
Your goal for this Touchstone is to build your confidence with technology. Using Microsoft Excel, you will organize three monthly budgets, visualize the data using graphs, and discuss the results. You’ll begin with the budget you created in Excel in the Unit 2 Touchstone. There are many types of technologies available for personal or professional use that can analyze and display personal financial data. Your experience with Excel spreadsheets in this course is a skill you can apply to other technology tools in your life and career. If you need a refresher on spreadsheets, review the tutorials in Unit 1, Challenge 3 of this course.
Touchstone: Analyzing Your Personal Finances
SCENARIO: Three months have passed since you created your first financial plan (i.e., the Unit 2 Touchstone). In that time, your budget has gone through some changes. The good news is that your income has increased because of your strong performance at work. However, health care and miscellaneous costs have gone up along with your earnings. You will need to reallocate your monthly budget based on these changes to see how you’re progressing toward your original savings goal.
While you appreciate numbers and figures, you also know that a strong financial analysis needs visual information. As part of your progress check, you’ve committed to creating a set of graphs that you can share with your financial advisor.
ASSIGNMENT: This assignment has two parts. In part 1, you will analyze personal finance data based on the scenario described above. You’ll use your problem solving and agility skills to balance three monthly budgets, and you’ll use your technology skill to graph the spending allocations in each of them. Finally, you’ll sharpen all three skills as you calculate and graph the progress you’re making toward your original savings goal.
In part 2, you will answer reflection questions about the decisions you made, identify how to create more savings opportunities, and make predictions about life and economic impacts that could affect the future of your plan.
For this assignment, you will:
- Create three monthly budgets and perform a personal financial analysis using Microsoft Excel.
- Summarize changes in expenditures between budgets.
- Show the results of the analysis using appropriate graphs in Excel.
- Explain how the graph types you have selected will help your financial advisor understand the data.
- Discuss the results of the financial analysis including savings achievements, future budget modifications, and life impacts that could derail the budget in the coming year.
- Reflect on what the analysis might reasonably look like in one year, accounting for economic factors such as inflation and the consumer price index.
Download the Excel template below, which further breaks down the steps involved in this assignment. You will return the completed template as your Touchstone submission.
A. Assignment Guidelines
DIRECTIONS: Refer to the lists below throughout the assignment. Do not submit your Touchstone until it meets these guidelines.
1. Analyzing Your Personal Finances
❒ Have you populated the tables for Month 1, Month 2, and Month 3 with your budgeting information?❒ Have you verified that all amounts are displayed on a monthly (not annual) basis?❒ Have you verified that the sum of your expenditures (including savings) equals your employment income?❒ Have you populated the Savings Progress table?❒ Have you selected the most effective graph type for each of your data sets?❒ Have you left all predetermined formulas intact?
2. Reflection Questions
❒ Have you directly answered each question that was asked?❒ Have you provided sufficient evidence to support each of your answers?❒ Have you made clear and logical connections between your conclusions and the data used in the financial analysis?❒ Have you leveraged content from the course tutorials about economic factors?❒ Have you included sufficient detail in your answers?