All month long I have been sharing printable tools I’ve created to help you on your journey to spend less and save more. If you haven’t gotten the first few, here they are:
The tool for this week is essential for anyone that wants to learn more about where their money is going each month. It’s one of the initial steps in most budgeting processes, and it can really help open your eyes to the reality of your spending habits.
This tool is simple to use, and FREE for you to download!
The Instruction Sheet will tell you everything you need to know, but simply put – this tool is a basic tracking mechanism that allows you to chart and classify all of your expenses for a set period of time.
By charting every expense, and assigning them to categories, you can discover where your money is going, and make decisions on the best place to start cutting back.
You might be surprised by your spending habits if you give this part of the process a real shot and use this Expense Tracker without cheating!
I have created the tracking sheet with suggested categories that should fit most of your spending: Home, Transportation, Bills, Debt, Food and Entertainment. I also included two “Other” columns so you can create unique categories that suit your unique spending habits.
I suggest that you track EVERY expense for at least one whole pay period. You need to be able to match up your spending habits with your income, so charting for the period of time covered by one pay period is perfect!
The Instruction Sheet has definitions for each of the categories that I suggest you use. You can modify these if you’d like, but be sure to maintain consistency as you add expenses and categorize them.
You might need several sheets to make it through a whole pay period, so print several and keep them together. You might want to keep your Expense Tracker with your checkbook so you can easily update it whenever you update your checkbook.
After you have tracked your expenses for a while, you should spend time scrutinizing your spending. Look at each category. Identify your necessary expenses, and which expenses might have been frivolous, or unnecessary. These will be the areas you want to focus on as you begin cutting back and making changes in your spending habits.
Tracking your expenses is only one step in a whole process of learning to spend less and save more, but it’s a very important piece, so don’t overlook it!
I hope this tool can help you get a handle on your spending and help you start making some changes!