What are the system and software requirements for using TEA? TEA runs on both MacOS and Windows PC desktop operating systems. TEA is designed to run in the latest version of Microsoft Excel included in the Microsoft 365 subscription. Some features and functionality may not be compatible with older versions of Excel. If you have questions about running TEA with your specific system and Excel version, please feel free to contact me.
Do I need to be an Excel expert to use TEA? Not at all! TEA is designed for Excel novices and expert users alike. The TEA guidance documentation that accompanies your TEA package includes Excel basics and walks you through each detail that you have to fill in yourself and each data point that the spreadsheet formulas generate automatically.
Investing in TEA
What sort of time investment does TEA require? Once you receive your TEA files, I suggest setting aside an afternoon to read through the TEA Guide and familiarize yourself with the various fields. In general, though, how you use TEA once you have purchased it is entirely up to you. Some people keep it open on their computers and enter project, client and expenses data each day as they go, while others set aside weekly or monthly TEAtime to update their TEA records and check in on their business health. Are there ongoing costs for using TEA? The TEA system of Excel spreadsheets is a one-time purchase for the templates that you can start populating with your business data out of the box. If you would like your spreadsheets customized at any time, the work for the customization would be priced at an hourly rate agreed in writing by both of us in advance.
Is there a trial period for using TEA? Since TEA is not a subscription service, there is no trial period. Once you have purchased TEA, your spreadsheets are yours for life.
The Standard TEA Package
What income and project data can I record and analyze with the standard TEA package? The Income & Expenses spreadsheet in the standard TEA package includes the following columns in the Income tab:
Month [when payment is] Due
Work Completed [Date]
Payment Due Date on Invoice
Job [Title] & Notes
Total Word [or Page] Count
Rate per 1000 Words [or per Page] (Estimated)
Hours Worked (Estimated)
Words [or Pages] per Hour (Estimated)
Desired Rate per Hour
Hours Worked (Actual)
Rate per 1000 Words [or per Page] (Actual)
Words [or Pages] per Hour (Actual)
Rate per Hour (Actual)
Amount to Quote Before Tax
Amount to Quote Including Tax
What expenses data can I record and analyze with the standard TEA package? The Income & Expenses spreadsheet in the standard TEA package includes the following columns in the Expenses tab:
Date [when the expense was incurred]
Month [when the expense was incurred]
Total Amount Paid
Receipt [format, e.g. printed receipt or credit card statement]
What summary data is included with the standard TEA package? The Income & Expenses spreadsheet in the standard TEA package includes the following tables in the Summaries tab:
A Monthly Summaries Table breaking down income invoiced and received, hours worked and expenses by month.
An Expense Categories Summary Table breaking down expenses by category.
A Client Summaries Table including the income received, hours worked and date last contacted for each client.
Customizing Your TEA
Can I customize my TEA at any time? Yes, although some times are better than others! You can purchase the standard TEA to get a feel for it and add customizations at a later date, but it's preferable for me to add all customizations before you start entering your business data for the current year. This is because if your TEA already has some data in it, you'll either have to copy it into the new customized version of TEA that I send you or share your filled-in TEA with me so I can customize it directly (see my T&Cs about sharing your business data with me during customizations).
Using TEA: General
Why can't I add rows? Since each row includes some locked cells that contain formulas, TEA users cannot currently add rows in TEA.
I have disabled the option to let users add rows in the TEA spreadsheets because any newly added row would contain only blank cells and would not include the formulas that power the TEA calculations. If you manually entered project or expenses data into a blank row and did all the calculations yourself, that data might not get included in the Summaries tab, and there would be a risk of introducing inaccuracies and inconsistencies through human error.
Using TEA: Project and Income Data
How do I record projects that start in one year but end in another? I recommend that you include rows for the project in both years' TEA but only fill in the payment and hours-worked details that pertain to the current year in each spreadsheet. Filling in all the details in both years can lead to the payment amounts and hours worked being included in the monthly, client and overall summaries for both years.
As a simple example, if the client paid for work in 2020 but you only did the work in 2021 (and if your TEA is organized by calendar year), your 2020 TEA should include a row for the project with the "Payment Due Date on Invoice", "Date Paid", "Amount Invoiced" and "Amount Received" columns filled in, and your 2021 TEA should include a row for the project with the "Start Date", "Work Deadline", "Work Completed" and "Hours Worked (Act.)" columns filled in.