Are you a pen and paper kind of person? There are times that I am. I do know that I love technology and use it all the time. I mean, it seems like there are apps and programs for just about everything. For some things like my schedule and my budget though, I like to keep things old school and written down. I use a planner for my schedule, but for those of you that also like to keep their budgets written down, here are some tips on how to create a spending tracker to help you keep your finances in order:
Start with the basics. When tracking your spending, start by writing down all of the expenses that are regular and that stay the same amount each time. A perfect example of this is your mortgage and car payment, etc. Those expenses are unchanging so get them out of the way right away. I like to create my spending tracker months in advance and just pre-fill this information in. It may only save a few minutes, but it feels good knowing it’s there. The same goes for your income. If your income is the same amount each month, go ahead and add that in too.
Expand your categories. For a typical budget or spending tracker, the common categories are food, housing, healthcare, vehicle, debt, and utilities. You may think that this is plenty, and it may be for some people, but I have found it useful to expand the categories so that expenses can truly be broken down and understood. For example, do you really want your trip through Burger King (or your fast food restaurant, coffee shop, etc of choice) put into the food category with the rest of your groceries? Or should you put it into a restaurant category? The more detailed the categories, the more in-depth the view of your expenses will be. It may seem like more work, but you will have a better idea of how you can improve your financial life.
Keep up on it. If you are serious about budgeting and tracking your expenses, you need to keep up on it. It is imperative to do it monthly, if not more often. This step alone will help keep you from blowing your budget.
Keep your savings separate. Keeping your savings separate from your budget and spending tracker is a great way to keep your money “out of sight and out of mind” and for some people that is what is needed to keep building up their savings.
Have you created your own spending tracker before? What did you find was most helpful?