Figuring Out Your Expenses Can Be Overwhelming
Spending less money can be as easy as knowing what it is exactly you are spending your money on. Once you get an overview of your expenses, it becomes easier to manage them, and ultimately both cutout expenses and minimize them.
Basically, in order to cut the fat out of your spending, you need to know the anatomy of the beast. How can we begin to trim our spending habits and develop better ones without first identifying where our money is disappearing off to? Let’s decide together to tackle it from the ground up.
Here’s a jump start to get you going!
Pick Your Favorite Tracker for Expenses
Keep Track Manually with Sheets
The original data tracking system! Tracking using sheets can be done with either Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
We recommend using Google Sheets over the latter as it is online compatible and can be accessed anywhere, on any device, so you’re never without a moment where you can’t input new data or check your spending. It’s also free.
Create a Personalized Bullet Journal
Sometimes the best way to get involved with tracking your expenses is to make a creative project out of it. Bullet Journaling is a great way to spur engagement with what’s going on in your life and can help keep you on track.
Also, here’s a nifty YouTube video by Ashley Ann Laz who sets up her bullet journal for monthly budgeting and uses an actual numbered example for end-of-month budgeting:
Utilize a Spending App
For those with limited time, or wanting extra features along with tracking can look to the multitude of apps available to help make our financial lives easier.
One of the more popular choices these days is Mint. Create budgets, get alerts about account charges, and receive tips for saving money. You can even access your credit score for free.
Identify Where Your Money Goes: Bills & Spending
In order to start figuring out how to lower your expenses and cut out unnecessary spending is to first identify where it is your money is going and log it! Take everything you spend and start inputting it into your tracker of choice.
It might seem cumbersome to do it all at once, but once you do, that hard part is over and you’ll have a nice baseline to keep track of. After that, you can start taking advantage of the many ways we can start spending less and start saving.
Here are some of the major recurring spending that most people have to pay for. Everyone is different and it’s important to start tackling your individually-based purchases after you get the major basics out of the way.
Whether it’s rent or a mortgage, it’s probably taking up the brunt of your expenses. For homeowners, it can get a little more tricky as a home’s needs and upkeep can manifest in different costs. Doesn’t mean you can’t track them in a way that helps give you peace of mind for anything that comes.
Fortunately, car expenses can be relatively easy to track as a lot of its costs come at regular intervals (excluding emergencies)
- Car Payments
- Oil & Filter
- General Maintenance
Unfortunately, not everything is included in the rent and if you’re a homeowner this is all up to you. Find out exactly how much you’re using now and how much you could cut back on based on your needs and what you can live without.
- Trash Removal
- TV & Internet
There has been an explosion of monthly online subscriptions in the past years. It might seem like a harmless $5, $10, $15 a month, but they add up quickly and before you know it it’s taking a large share of the budget.
Food & Drink
This is one part of your budget that can really fluctuate to a harmful degree if you’re not careful. Spending money from impulse purchases, cravings, takeout… the reasons are endless and sometimes so are our stomachs, but your funds are not. Fortunately, there’s a lot of options available to you such as learning to maximize your grocery shopping gains.
- Anything bought to consume outside the home.
- Anything not cooked at home 🙂
Staples & Repurchases
Anything you need to regularly replenish to live your life can range from skin care products to toilet paper.
Certain items, like toilet paper, need to be repurchased more regularly while others not so much when you invest in buying items of quality that last.
This one can be tricky as its easy to spend an exorbitant about of money regardless of the cost when it comes to the care of your pet. That doesn’t mean there isn’t sale opportunities and other ways to cut down costs without affecting you and your pet’s quality of life.
- Pet food
- Waste removal
- Yearly vaccinations & medicines for things like tick season.
- Vet checkups or emergency visits
- Miscellaneous items (toys, winter clothes, etc.)
Extra & Unavoidable Spending
This is not to say that anything you buy outside the necessities isn’t necessary. Sometimes you need a new pair of jeans because your ye old favorite pair ripped or you need more pencils for your next passion project. Perhaps your friend has invited you to a birthday party or you need to buy a gift.
These kinds of purchases can be sentimental and hard to approach from a budgeting perspective, so do your best to feel your best about the choices surrounding them and don’t worry too much!
Emergency funds are different from savings. Having an emergency fund can be essential to avoiding debt or financial complicates in the event of something happening. It can be important to factor into your budget if you aren’t already investing in making one or have one already.
What Can You Do Now
After you identify and track all your expenses you can start budgeting and minimalizing your expenses – basically, start saving! You can now break down each category until you’ve got your spending managed in a way that it reduces the financial stresses we can often feel, a lot of which stems from the unknown.
Now that you have an eagle eye on your expenses, you can also start venturing out into the world of frugal living and minimalism now that you’ve got your financial situation tracked. Whatever you choose to do, having this bit of organization will help you make much more informed decisions about your life and lifestyle.