Alright, number one is something I was doing long before I had my financial act together. I think I started doing this around the fall of 2001, right when I moved to Texas; I started tracking my regular monthly expenses. It was really simple actually. I simply listed out the days of the month in an Excel table and put the names of my expenses on the date that they were due.
Why I Did This…
I did this so that I would:
- No longer pay a bill late (do I have to explain why this is bad?)
- Have a better idea of my monthly expense needs so I knew how much I needed to earn and how much I was able to spend on other things
- Determine what I truly needed and what expenses I could cut out
Here’s a pic of the tracker I used:
Download the Monthly Tracker
Still very simple, but it does the trick. You’ll notice that I’ve added columns for Savings and Income. This simple tool helps us to visualize our financial framework, and put everything that affects our finances into perspective. You don’t have to use Excel. Use what every method you feel most comfortable with. You could easily do this on a single piece of paper.
Why Not a Full Budget?
One thing that may need to be noted is that we’re not tracking ALL of our expenses with this tool. This isn’t a full blown budget. I don’t think those are worth the time for us. The purpose of this tracker is not to know everything that you spend your money on, but to understand the regular (or fixed) items. Obviously, we don’t track our meals and entertainment here because that’s an expense that will change every month.
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So there you have it, the first of ten things that have helped us to have personal finance success!
The Rest of the Series…
I’m doing a series of post that will inform you of the 10 things that we’ve done that I believe has brought success with our personal finances. Most are simple things that anyone could quickly implement. Look for a few posts per week.