Written by Octavia Ramirez
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
It's no secret that budgeting and expense tracking can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are many personalized methods — such as bullet journaling, spreadsheets, online templates and apps — that can take the dreariness out of this.
Here's how you can track, manage, and stay on top of your money, so you can work towards financial stability.
Track Your Spending Across Different Categories
Everyone's spending habits are different. One person may spend more on food, while another person spends more on clothing or accessories. It's important to track your expenses based on categories, ensuring that you're managing your money with a balanced approach.
When creating a monthly budget, determine how much of your take-home income, either in a dollar value, or percentage, should be allocated in every category.
For example, determine the amount you'll spend on housing, transportation, groceries, and paying utilities each month. Most importantly, track how much you're spending on disposable or miscellaneous items. The costs of little luxuries can add up quickly even if you're only spending a little bit each time.
Track these expenses, either in a bullet journaling notebook, with online software or on a spreadsheet. Find something that works for you and stick with it once you feel comfortable.
Create a Monthly Budget in Your Calendar
A monthly calendar spread can be the most helpful way of managing your personal finances and creating a budget. Map out when different bills are due, the days you'll get paid, and when you'll reach certain savings or debt repayment milestones.
Organizing your money across your monthly schedule, or even weekly schedule, can contextualize your finances with the activities and flow of your life and work.
By having it in a calendar, you'll be able to keep track of important dates and plan out when money is coming in and when it's more likely to come out.
Track Saving and Debt Repayment Goals
Don't forget to track your debt repayment goals. Visual tools like an illustrated "thermometer" or milestone checklist can help keep you motivated as you save up for a future vacation or a down payment on a home, or work towards paying off your credit cards, student loan, or even your mortgage.
By having an end in sight, you can motivate yourself to reach your goals.
Track Your Mood—It May Affect Your Spending Habits
Whether you're looking to reach saving, investing, or debt repayment goals, one of the keys to financial stability is to write things down.
Beyond just numerical values, it's helpful to track your mood as well. Visual templates that allow you to track your feelings, either through colour coding, rating systems or other measurement tools can help you predict when you might be more inclined to spend. By keeping track, you may become more mindful about your spending habits.
Your mood can affect your spending and financial behaviour. According to one study, on sunny days, when the weather is nice, people tend to feel happier, and subsequently spend more money. Some people find superficial emotional relief with "retail therapy," shopping when they're feeling sad.
By tracking your mood either daily, weekly or monthly, you might be able to see and measure the relationship between your mood and your financial habits.