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I've been tracking expenses for 5 years now in an excel spreadsheet. I track forward a year and budget in expenses that come up in the future...like kids back to school shopping trip, insurance, holidays etc. I make sure that debits in the account go red, so it stands out.
Every new year I do the budget for the entire year forward. It enables me to save for retirement, taxes, just about anything. You DO NOT need to spend money on fancy programs or books. A simple spreadsheet does it all. I have four columns and a net worth sheet. My columns are date, how much was it?, where did I spend it?, running balance. It's really like an old fashioned check book, with forward thinking.
On the net worth page, I track our retirement savings, home value, car loan, and any debt. Just by doing this simple spreadsheet,
I've been able to save $300 per paycheck (bi-weekly) to our retirement fund, and we've reduced our mortgage to 19 years (from 35).
If anyone wants more details, I'm more than happy to help.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can't...You're right!
Inside me lives a skinny woman...but I can usually shut the b*tch up with cookies! :o)
Once I know what my expenses are - I created 3 different streams for my funds:
1/3 for living expenes, 1/3 for vacation/special event 1/3 for rainy day/emergency
Once I got this system in place, it worked well for me.
Now that I am retired I have less flexibility - I would be interested in learning of other budget/money management tips that work
I looked at the "You Need a Budget" (YNAB) place too, and it looks really good:
It has special software you can buy but its book is free online so one can get an idea of what it is about and if one can make something for one's self or want to invest in the inexpensive special software:
My husband does our finances at the moment, has a long-running budget that is pretty automatic. We each have our own individual credit card, both of us are on both cards and both cards are from the same bank but having two different cards, each of us carrying only one around, if we have a failure of one card when we're vacationing or something, the other person's card will usually still work; last Fall when we were in London, someone tried to charge thousands of dollars worth of travel tickets on my husband's card, for example, (from China, no less!) so they blocked that card but we had mine and it worked fine until we got home and my husband and our creditor figured it out.
But anyway, I just budget for my credit card, try to keep it down under X amount. We don't use much cash anymore. I'm in charge of ordering all our groceries too (on my husband's card) so I've gotten to planning that and coordinating it well so I can keep costs down. I was just sort of buying what "looked" good but now I shop for delivery every Thursday and Sunday and have lists for each day and it is going really really well; we don't run out of things and I don't do as much, oh-that-looks-good! shopping :-) I think I have managed to cut a couple hundred dollars off the food bills in the last month or so since I put the plan/lists in place.
I think just listing things, knowing what you "need" to spend money on and keeping that in the front of one's mind can help, as a mental budget.
Edited by: MARGOMCP at: 8/15/2012 (08:48)
There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. ~John Mortimer
I like working in Excel as it lets me modify things as I go along,
The best thing is to keep it simple - and use it daily - like tracking 'food & water'.
In time everything becomes easier! I would be interested to learn what you have discovered - if you have any questions, let me know
I did a day on sparksavings, but it didn't look like the feedback reports were that useful. So I'm going to make a ledger in excel. I have used quickbooks extensively, but don't have it on the computers I use regularly right now. But what usually happens with quickbooks is I generate reports out of it that are excel spreadsheets, so... yeah.
Your off to a good start by tracking your various expenditures - cash - credit card and cheque - ie when they happen, also when you have money coming in.
Once you have done this for a couple of months (2-3 ), you can see where your regular expenses are and can then develop a budget to live by - like your food tracking you can see where you may need to modify things to stay within budget...or evaluate whether you really to spend so much in one area.
If you are familiar with Excel / other type of spreadsheet software, this tool can be good for setting up your tracking system.
I have been doing this for a couple of years, when I start the new year, I just make a copy of my previous year - and edit it as I go along - this way you will have few surprises - ie like forgetting someones birthday, or when the insurance is due etc.
Good luck -
I was looking through the sparkpoints and found SparkSavings! Tada! And it brought me back here...
I somehow missed that I was only supposed to pick 3 fast break goals. I had like 11! LOL. It was tough deciding which ones to stick with. I am doing:
Exercise 10 minutes
Read from a spiritual book
Create and stick to a budget.
Though on the budget I'm applying what I've learned about nutrition, which is to track it daily. I think part of that will be to divide out monthly expenses and realize I spend on mortgage and utilities everyday, even though the bill comes once a month.
I guess along with this I can know how much money comes in, and look at that as well.