While maintaining a budget is huge for your finances, watching where your money goes is key.
Anyone with a love of Starbucks like me knows how easy it is to say “I’ll just have one cup this week ($5)”….. Then there’s that monthly gym membership you swear you’ll actually use one day ($30)… Or what about that “kids practice ran late so we’re driving thru Mc Donalds ($15).
All these little (unnecessary) expenses add up. In the example above that’s $50 in one month… or $600 a year.
Anyone on a tight budget knows that $600 could be better used somewhere else… or even better, put in a saving account for all of life’s unplanned events (car repairs, medical expenses….. trip to Disneyland.. JK JK!!)
Keeping track of these expenses may not be the easiest thing (or very fun AT ALL), but seriously I’d advise you give it a try for one month. One single month to analyze where you’re handing out all those dollars at… and I’m sure you’ll thank me at the end (after you curse me for helping you see what you already knew… Carmel Macchiato anyone?)
Track your income & expenses for one month. Write down every time you spend money (or save receipts to make it easier). Not just cash expenses or when you use your debit card here or there, but ALL money spent. This will include any bills you pay online, automatic deductions, health insurance premiums, gifts you buy, parking meters, lunch money for the kids, pack of gum. All money spent.
Personally, I like to group my spending into categories to make it a little easier.
Some of those include: eating out, clothes for kids, haircuts, etc.
Maybe you’ll get lucky and see that you’re only minimally spending outside of your necessary expenses and you’re a rock star at sticking to a budget and saving.
Or you’ll be like the rest of us and spend a few minutes being disgusted at how much you spent on eating out that month and how much Target manages to steal from you every time you walk in their freaking doors!
Either way it’s an eye opening experience… promise!
Doing this exercise will also help you take a better look at your existing budget. If there are certain things you’re spending money on every month consistently then they might as well be an official line item on the budget. Even if you wish you weren’t spending money on it monthly, or want to try to cut back on that expense (coffee…) add it to the budget and be realistic with yourself (and your partner).
You can always change it in the future.
Try it if you’re dare…. Let me know how it works out for you!