Keeping track of where your money goes is an important part of developing good spending habits. It can be done with a journal, spreadsheet, app or other software.
Start by recording your spending for two weeks or a month. This gives you a more comprehensive look at your spending habits and helps you identify patterns that may indicate areas for improvement.
1. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to track spending on your budget. It can also help you reflect on your life and your goals.
The best way to get started is to start small and write every day. Writing in a journal will help you practice writing and improve your communication skills.
Some people prefer to keep a journal in a notebook, but you can also use an app or a spreadsheet. Regardless of how you keep your journal, the important thing is that it’s a place where you can freely express yourself.
The main goal is to track how much you spend on each category so that you can see where you can make changes. Then, you can adjust your budget accordingly.
2. Use a spreadsheet
Budgeting spreadsheets can be a useful tool for anyone trying to track spending on their budget. They can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them, and they often come with helpful formulas for simplifying calculations.
The first step in using a spreadsheet is to figure out your income and expenses. It can be a time-consuming process, but it’s necessary to get your finances in order.
Next, create categories for your income and expenses. These can include rent/mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, health care, savings, insurance, entertainment and more.
To track expenses, enter the amount of each expense in the column that corresponds to its category. If you’re working with a spreadsheet program, insert a formula on the far right of each line to tally total expenses for that category throughout the year. This helps ensure that the numbers don’t drift across the rows.
Use this spreadsheet to help track your spending habits. Keep a journal or notepad and write down every purchase you make, whether it’s at the grocery store, office supply store, fast food restaurant or your favorite coffee shop. Check it in at the end of your budget time period to see how you did and make any necessary adjustments.
3. Use an app
An app is a great way to track spending on your budget, as it can automate the process and give you a big-picture view of your finances. Some of the best budgeting apps also offer educational resources and help you set up bill reminders.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is an easy to use, results-based budgeting app that encourages you to be more intentional about how your money goes. Based on a zero-based budgeting framework, the app pulls transactions automatically from your financial accounts and splits them across multiple budget categories.
YNAB offers a free version and a premium plan, which adds features such as automatic bill payment reminders, investment tracking and access to your TransUnion credit score.
Dollarbird is another popular budgeting app that allows you to sync your checking, savings and credit card accounts and set up automatic bill payments. It also provides a monthly tally of your spending and recommends ways to save more.
4. Keep track of your spending
If you want to get the most out of your budget, tracking your spending is essential. Having a clear picture of what you spend allows you to revise your plans and make changes where necessary.
To track your expenses, start by identifying your fixed and variable costs. Fixed expenses include regular bills like rent or mortgage, utilities and car payments. Variable expenses are those that change from month to month.
Once you’ve identified your spending categories, list them in a spreadsheet or other planning tool. This will help you determine your priorities and set aside money for each category.
Another easy way to track your spending is to keep a journal or use a budgeting app. This will allow you to record purchases day by day.