Now that I’ve written down all my goals, it’s time to track what I spend money on each month. I like to use excel because I find it helpful to physically input everything I spend rather than pulling information directly from my bank account. Here’s a sample of my Budget Spreadsheet for your viewing pleasure.
Basically I input everything that goes in and out, where the money came from (Checking, Credit or Cash) and place it into a category, so I know how much I’m spending on things. I use the following categories, but of course everyone’s lives are different so you’ll have different spending buckets.
Necessities: The big stuff. Rent, water, power, gas. Stuff that I have to spend money on to get to work, have a place to live and eat.
Entertainment: This is anything I do for fun from art classes to going to see a movie.
Food: Grocery bills are counted under necessities, but Food is any extra food I buy out and about that I don’t absolutely need. I’ll admit this bucket has been taking more and more of my paycheck as I’ve settled into my job from being a contractor for awhile.
Shopping: Anything I buy which falls under the clothing/skincare/gifts basket.
Exercise: I could put this under entertainment since you don’t have to spend money to exercise, but I think it falls between an extraneous cost (yoga is NOT cheap) and a necessity (My health is important to me.)
Travel: Blah. This also eats up a large chunk of my paycheck when I do buy things for travel (hotels, airfare!!! or a rental car). I don’t use it often, but I like to have it separate.
I suppose I could break it out into more categories, but this works for me. It allows me to see if I’ve overspent each month and what most of my money is going to (Food! Eek!). Some months are better than others. I suppose the next step would be to track my spending habits over several months to see what my long term patterns are. I’ll work on that.
Until tomorrow. Budget away!