Wednesday, April 13, 2011

˚budgeting series-part 7˚ Tracking

So you've done all the hard work, and now its time to make everything look pretty.

There are a few methods to tracking your expenses. Some people love a spreadsheet on the computer. You can put formulas in the cells and all the adding will be done for you. 

For us, that doesn't work so well. We never remember to enter our expenses, and our budget became more of a accounting of where our money had been spent, rather than a way to budget our money and make sure we didn't overspend. 

What do we do?
The good, old-fashioned paper on the fridge. That's right. We print out a budget sheet each month and keep it on the fridge. That way it is staring us in the face every time we reach for a glass of milk.

Don't believe me? Come on over and you can look for yourself to see how much money we have left in our food budget for the month. 

So, I thought I would share the method we use to track our expenses. Here is the document we use. You will probably have to adjust it for yourself, but this will give you a good idea of what goes on around this house. 

So let me explain a few things:

1. These are the categories that we have developed (and adjusted) over the years. They work for us and they are always changing. That's a good thing. Once you make a budget, you are going to have to adjust it occasionally. 

2. Under many of the categories, you see this: $ XX + __________= _________. We have the set budget amount ($ XX) for the month. We add (or subtract) the leftover money we had from the previous month to get our new budget amount for the month. Make sense? Let's say my food budget for the month was $300. And last month, we spent $302. I would take $300 - $2 = $298. Make more sense? We do it this way so we can save up in a category if we know we will want more in that category for a certain month (like the gift category in a birthday month). I'll be honest. It doesn't always work out. But it is really fun to try. It is also a big motivator to try and stay in the budget because if you don't there are consequences coming next month.

3. In our church, we pay a tithing and give other donations. We don't include that in our budget (mostly because we don't make enough money right now to include that). So it is pretty much just coming out of savings. 

5. The little box at the bottom of some of the categories is to write how much we underspent (or overspent). If we spent $250 of $300 in our food budget that month, we would write +50 in the box (and that +50 would transfer over to the next month.) If we spent $325 out of $300, we would write -50 in the box (and we would have to subtract $50 from next month's food budget). This helps us be motivated to actually stay in our budget. 

6. We try our best to write down the date, store, (or item) and total we spent every time we spend money. We also add up totals a few times in the month so we can see what we have left to spend in each category. 


And before I go and let you experiment to see what works for you, I will leave you with one more great resource. This resource is a place for you to be able to see all your accounts. (Saving, IRAs, checking, etc.) You can't transfer any money on this site, but you are able to see everything. It is protected the same as a bank website (and you can learn all about it on their site). You can also budget, set goals, and get recommendations for good financial planning. 

While Mr. Candid and I use as an overall reference, we really prefer the paper on the fridge. 

It just works for us.

Now go find what works for you and start tracking your expenses!

*Update: click here to see part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6, and part 8.

1 comment:

  1. My neighbor was just asking me for budgeting advice and this was the first place I looked for help! I think we'll be putting one of these on our fridge (or bedroom door) too! Thanks Katie!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...