The New Year has rolled around once again and we are all Thankful to God for another year of health and sanity. If you haven’t devised a plan already, you will want to start tracking your spending so that you can stay on track of your spending with a personal budget.
Tracking your spending may be a bit tedious, but it’s best way to find out where your money is going. One of the simplest way to track your spending, especially your cash, is the low-tech/old school way– with a notebook and a pen. Carry your small notebook with you and write down each dollar you spend for at least one month. Write all expenses in your notebook (Studio Oh! Spiral Notebook, Vintage Typewriter). Yes, even the cup of coffee you stopped to purchase at Starbucks on your way into the office and that unexpected trip to the mall.
You may want to transfer your handwritten spending notes on a weekly basis to a computer spreadsheet. Once you have collected information for about a month, you should have a good of the information needed to manage your personal budget.
Major categories that you’ll want to include are:
- tithing to your church
- food (groceries & dining out)
The spreadsheet program that we would recommend is Excel or any financial tracking program you may have access to on your computer or tablet. Separate categories may need to be created; however, Keep in mind that you’ll need to budget for some unexpected items, like gifts and automobile repairs, which will be necessary but won’t occur every month.
You may need to create a budget for each month for those irregular expenses such as: electric and heating expenses, car repairs, and gifts.
If it’s possible you should add in your personal savings such as: retirement savings, college savings, an emergency fund, long-term savings.
Don’t wait until the end of the month to see what’s left–budget for your savings first. Be sure to track where your cash is going.
After tracking your personal budget, you may notice some areas where you’ll have to make changes. You may see where you could shop for better deals when tracking your expenses so be sure to write down the name of the stores where before giving in to the extra expenses.