Tracking Expenses, Someone’s Gotta Do It
How much money did you make last month & where did it go? It’s impossible to be in control of your money if you don’t know where your money is going. It’s akin to…(seriously, I can’t think of a good analogy & I’ve come back to this multiple times haha). So it’s imperative that you track your expenses so you can see the entire picture. The problem is it’s a pain to do so. It’s something you have to do but you don’t want to do…like folding laundry LOL!
There are a many ways to track your money. We have a Mint account but I barely use it haha. Many credit card companies offer a spending/budget tracker but I don’t really use those either because I want more flexibility. You could Make Your Own Free Mobile Expense Tracking App that the awesome couple at Waffles on Wednesday came up with which is something I’m working on but just haven’t finished. I’m also not sure how well we’d do at entering expenses as we go. So I’ve fallen to the old-fashioned method of going through monthly credit card statements and tracking them on a spreadsheet. (PoorKibs secretly loves spreadsheets.)
To give us a bit more clarity, I recently added 10 categories to show us what we’re spending on rather than just how much we’re spending. The categories are:
- Auto (AUT)
- Entertainment (ENT)
- Food & Drinks (FND)
- Gifts & Donations (GND)
- Groceries (GRO)
- Health & Wellness (HNW)
- Home (HOM)
- Misc (MIS)
- Personal/Shopping (PNS)
- Travel (TRV)
So yeah, tracking these expenses means pulling up statements and going through them line by line to put them into the spreadsheet. It also means doing this for ALL credit cards we use which can get hairy thanks to Travel Hacking but it’s all worth it. It should take no more than 15-30mins depending on how much spending we’re doing. There’s incentive here to spend less haha. Anyway, here’s a screenshot of how I track it on our sheet.
The Date & Description columns are self-explanatory. The Category column lets you classify the expense as one of those 10 categories mentioned above. Once you enter one of the three letter abbreviations for the category, the amount which you take care of next will auto-fill to the right of the gray column for the appropriate category. The last thing to do is put the amount of the expense in either the Justin, Kibs or Both column depending on who it applies to.
And that’s it. Done! Cell D1 shows what I spent for the month. Cell E1 shows what you spent for the month. And those figures include a split of the Both column. Row 3 from Columns H thru Q show the spending for each category for the month. From there, it’s a bit of tweaking to try to optimize our spending then rinse & repeat each month.
For everyone else: Do you have a good grasp of where your money & spending is going? Is it something you’ve been meaning to do but instead just putting off like folding your laundry? Let me know if you need help on where to get started. If you want a copy of the Monthly Credit Card Tracker that we use, just subscribe below and I’ll send it over.