Many of us know that it is smart to keep track of our finances and have insight into how and where we are spending our money, but how many of us actually do it? Where do you start? Over the course of this series, we will introduce you to a few straightforward financial concepts that will help you get a grip on your finances. So, for everyone who is slightly scared to take a look at their bank balance, by all means, keep reading.
In most countries, publicly listed companies are required to produce three financial statements as part of their accounting disclosure. These financial statements are the Income Statement, the Statement of Financial Position (commonly known as the Balance Sheet), and the Cash Flow Statement. In this first part of the series, we will explain the Income Statement and explain how you can personally use it to gain more insight into where your money is coming from and where it is going.
To show you how to use an Income Statement for your personal use, we are going to follow a regular guy, let’s call him Aiman. Aiman is 29 years old and works as a sales executive at a major bank. He recently met a nice girl who really loves for Aiman to take her shopping. He really likes her, but with all that shopping going on, he is unsure if he can afford to keep dating her.
To ease his mind, Aiman wants to gain a little more insight into what his biggest expenses are. By a stroke of luck, he found an interesting article online about how to make a personal income statement. According to the article, an income statement can be divided into three parts: income, expenses and net profits.
For Aiman to construct an income statement for the month of January, he first has to determine how much money he has from his various sources of income. Most personal income is obtained through either wages you receive for work, rent you receive from owning property, interest you receive from savings, government benefits or dividends/capital gains from your investments. Sounds straightforward enough! After a bout of number crunching, Aiman comes up with the following information.
- From his job, he earns a base salary of RM32,000 annually after taxes, RM2,667 per month.
- As a sales executive, Aiman makes most of his money from commissions on sales. He can trace back RM18,000 worth of commissions earned in January.
- Aiman has to travel a lot for his work and therefore receives a monthly travel allowance from his employer worth RM600.
- He receives an end-of-year bonus equal to one month’s salary, worth RM4,167.
- He receives annual dividend pay-outs of RM5 per share on his 30 stocks in Apple. He owned the stocks throughout the year, and therefore realised no capital gains.
- He does not rent out any property.
In the income statement, a lump sum source of income or expense has to be spread out over the months that have contributed to it. For example, an end-of-year bonus that Aiman has worked for all year has to be spread out over all 12 months, because he actually worked for that bonus during all 12 months. Similarly, the payment of a personal liability insurance that covers him for six months has to be spread out over those same months, because he might pay only one time, but he is ensured for all six months.
With this information, he is able to construct the first piece of the Income Statement, the income section.
|Income in January|
|Total monthly income||RM||5002|
Aiman’s total monthly income of RM5,002 does not mean that Aiman’s bank account will increase by that amount in January. The purpose of an income statement is to determine if you have a combination of income and expenses that are profitable. It is not meant to give you any insight about your cash balance. If for example, you wanted to know if next month you have enough funds for a large purchase that you don’t usually make, you will be better off by constructing a personal Cash Flow Statement, which we will explain in the third part of this series.
After Aiman has listed all his sources of income, he has to make a list of all his expenses during the month. He has to go through his debit and credit card history for the month and relate each withdrawal or charge to the expense that it relates to. He only has to list the ones where the good or service was consumed or used in the month of January, otherwise, the expense would relate to a different month. For example, a bill he paid in January for the electricity bill of December should not be listed on the Income Statement of January but on the one for December.
Aiman comes up with the following list:
- His total expenses on food and groceries for the month was RM1,300.
- In December, he paid RM1,500 rent for the month of January.
- in November, he paid for an all-risk liability insurance coverage for the next 6 months, worth RM300.
- In October, he paid for a 12-month Gym membership, which cost him RM1,440.
- In January, he used cabs 20 times, which gave him credit card charges worth RM600.
- His girlfriend used his credit card for shopping 12 times, for combined credit card charges of roughly RM1,400.
- He paid for his Netflix subscription in January, which was RM50.
- He was credited for RM85 to pay for his Postpaid mobile plan for the month of January.
- He made a monthly payment to pay off his student loans worth RM250.
- He had incidental expenses worth RM500.
With this information, Aiman is able to construct the second part of the income statement, the expense section. As mentioned before, lump sum payments that are a combination of monthly payments need to be divided and traced to the month you consumed the good or service. For example, the insurance payment in November, or the gym membership payment in October have been paid in other months, but they grant you access to a good or service in January. The cost associated with that access should, therefore, be allocated to January.
- Insurance: RM300 / 6 months = RM50
- Gym Membership: RM1,440 / 12 months = RM120
|Expenses in January|
|Total monthly expenses||RM||6,055|
The Income Statement
Alright, now we are getting somewhere! With both the income and expense section done, Aiman can start to assemble the complete income statement, by combining the two sections and calculating his net result for the month of January, by subtracting his total monthly expenses from his total monthly income.
|Income Statement - January|
|Income in January|
|Total monthly income||RM||5,002|
|Expenses in January|
|Total monthly expenses||RM||6,055|
The Income Statement gives you a straightforward overview of the monthly, quarterly or annual income and expenses. If you want to use an Income Statement, the best way is to do it is monthly, and at the end of the year combine all your monthly statements to produce your Annual Income Statement.
Once you have assembled all three parts of the income statements, don’t think you’re done! To really get some insight into your spending trends, you can calculate each expense as a percentage of your total income.
By looking at your expenses as a percentage of your income, you have a handy number that you can compare across months, and you can see how your expenses behave relative to your income. This is especially useful if your monthly income varies month-to-month. You can also use this percentage to predict expenses in future months. For this to work, the expense has to have a strong correlation with your income.
This is a professional way to look at your expenses and is commonly referred to as the ‘percent of sales method’. Well, since you’re not selling anything, you can just write ‘percent of income’ in your spreadsheet.
|Expenses as a percentage of income|
|Total monthly income||RM||5,002||100%|
|Expenses in January|
|Total monthly expenses||RM||6,055||121%|
From here, Aiman can draw some well-supported conclusions.
- Aiman’s net result for the month is negative, which means that Aiman has lived beyond his means in January. For every RM1 of income, he spends RM1.21. If Aiman were to maintain this spending pattern, he would quickly run out of savings or he would have to go into debt.
- 32% of his income went to shopping expenses, which is disproportionately high. He should have a serious conversation with his girlfriend about her credit card use!
Living with a negative net result is probably more common than you think, you might not even realise that you are until you construct your own personal Income Statement. There are several financial products and services that could allow you to maintain a negative net result for extended periods of time, (personal loans, credit cards, etc.) but this is generally not a good idea. If you have a negative net result, your first choice should always be to cut down on your spending.
We hope that this guide has given you some insight as to how you can personally use an income statement to get a better handle on your finances. In the next part of this series, we will take a look at your assets and liabilities through an in-depth guide to your personal balance sheet.
Download the Personal Income Statement Template
To help get you started, use our downloadable Personal Income Statement template and key in your income and expenses! The sheet will auto-calculate your net income and help get you on your way to budgeting your finances. Download here.
Infographic: Are You Living Beyond Your Means?
Jesse is a Guest Writer at CompareHero.my. A business student with a passion for finance and football, he is interested in new cultures and stepping out of his comfort zone.
CompareHero.my strives to empower Malaysians with financial literacy and the tools to make better financial decisions in life. Find and compare the best credit cards, and personal loans on CompareHero.my today.