Wooing the non-accounting with Excel know-how

Jan 10th 2008
Sift Media
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By Chris Wood, CPA - I took a four day trip to New Orleans with several friends to attend the BCS national championship game and have a good time in general. We all wanted to be fair, so we decided to split the cost of food, lodging and other expenses evenly. How better to keep track and allocate cost than with an Excel spreadsheet. I could use it to allocate meals using the specific identification method. Let’s see, you had the Jambalaya, that’s $12.50, and you had the Po-Boy that’s $9.95. I’ll use a formula to determine the portion of the tip. Some expenses can be allocated based on a percentage. The parking was $25 divided by four equals $6.25 each. I would be able show all my friends what their share of all of the expenses were. I knew they would be impressed and amazed at what I could do with an Excel spreadsheet. They were not accountants and never or rarely used a spreadsheet. Well today I finally got around to summarizing my costs for the trip.

I bought the airfare in September when it was only $35 each way. The airport and security fees pushed the total cost to $100.80. I spent an extra $20 to get priority seating so I could sit in an aisle seat in the exit row. That’s the best $20 I ever spent. You’re really not risking that much if your team doesn’t make it to the nation championship game. The worst that can happen is that you skip the game and visit New Orleans anyway. A win/win situation.

The ticket was through a friend of a friend of a friend who knew someone in the athletic department of a major university that knew someone in the athletic department at The Ohio State University that owed them a favor. At least that’s what I’m told, but let’s face it. It was a great seat at face value. I hit the lotto here.

The Cajun Cabin has bad food and even worse service. If you ever find yourself hungry on Bourbon Street, don’t go there.

Not showing is the lodging. I was able to use reward points to get a free room and breakfast. A perk I still carry from my days on the road as a consultant. I reserved the room in September when I got the flight, and it was a good thing because the rewards rooms were no longer available in December.

The last expense for $103 just melted out of my pocket. I think most of it was for rounds of beer, but I just can’t seem to remember!?! I’m pretty sure this last expense is responsible for preventing a final pooling of receipts and disbursements for a reconnoitering of cash due to/from everyone. I think that we all realized we got to see the game with all the amenities on the cheap compared to travel packages ranging from $2,000 to $3,000, so if I get this round or buy this dinner and you get the next one, then that’s good enough.

I’ve still got some unused frequent flier miles. I’m ready to book my tickets to Miami next year. GO BUCKS!


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