Several Choices to TRACK $
I can think of several ways to track your spending. There are several computer programs designed to track the trends for you in the form of spread sheets and IF you already own one,,,go right on a head and USE it! But if you don't have Quicken or another one...then you can use Excel to create your own spread sheet, OR purchase a ledger style tablet to put in a notebook...but I have an even more economical idea:
Notebook paper or spiral bound notebook. You will want to track over the next month and year even...so a notebook, or a way to keep up with each month is essential. KEEP up with the papers! I like a notebook. For less than $1 you can economically have a way to keep up with the "bills" and expenses~everywhere money is spent. A stapler is handy too. Staple receipts to the back of the page. A stapler is multi purpose, so it's a good investment.
- Set your pages up for each month.
- Begin NOW~start the month you are reading my post.
- Write the name of the month on the top line. To the right put the year.
- Skip down a line.
- Take a ruler or straight edge and make a line so that you have five (5) columns.
Column 2: ITEM
Column 3: AMOUNT DUE
Column 4: DATE PAID
Column 5: CATEGORY
The column are useful to track the money going out of the home. The most important column is CATEGORY. These can be as you set them up in your budget: Mortgage, Rent, Utilities, Food, Clothing, Fun...you can list these any way you want. Be sure that you cover even such things as Fuel, Insurance (health, life and auto), Care Maintence, and Gifts. Don't make separate columns for each of these, but devise a code for them, and WRITE IT DOWN in the notebook, just in case you forget...It's essential to track all the spending so you can see just where the funds are going.
Sometimes it's going to be tough in catagorizing the expenditures. When going out to eat, is this necessary so it would be food, which it is, or is it fun, which it is? IF you are trying to lower your expenses because there is not enough to cover each month, then categorize it under fun and keep that category on a strict "budget" meaning you a lot just a certain amount either weekly or monthly so you can pick and chose what you want to spend your FUN MONEY on~it might be eating out or you might want a movie rented or at the theater...THIS method gives you choices~AND the money is there...in the budget for such, not stolen from the essentials.
I will talk more about budgeting and categories next time. For now, hunt up and repurpose a notebook not already used UP! This is a great way to save, even if it's just the $1 start up cost!