Let me tell ya, the word “budget” was not in our vocabulary when Doug and I got married 5 years ago. Like many newly married couples we graduated from college, moved to a new city, got good jobs and spent money on the weekends rewarding ourselves for all of our HaRd WorK. BUT about 3 months after living like that we couldn’t seem to figure out why our checking account wasn’t increasing?! We knew our paychecks were coming in every 2 weeks, but where were they going? The only way to find out was to write down everything we spent for the entire next month. Which we did…and oh was that a wake-up call!
After seeing that in 1 MONTH we spent over $275 eating out and over $400 in gas (not to mention the large amount we spent on household items, clothes, entertainment, etc) we knew something had to change. We didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck and knew it was time to come up with a plan.
From that point forward we were committed to tracking every dollar we spent. To eliminate the chance of failing we did the following:
1)Create a monthly budget in an Excel spreadsheet (For example, click: Sample Finance Spreadsheet)
2) Hang the new spreadsheet on the FRIDGE w/ a mini-accordion file. Label each section of the accordion file w/ a different category.
3) Every evening write the total amount spent for the day (in their categories) and then put the receipt in the appropriate section of the mini-accordion file. If we didn’t have time to write on the sheet, attach the receipts on the cork-board. Only put the receipts in the accordion file AFTER they are written on the sheet.
4) In the middle or end of each month transfer the numbers from the sheet to the excel file on your computer. This will give you automatic calculations of how much you spent in each category—if your goals were met—how much you saved, etc.
5) At the end of each month transfer all of the receipts and the written spreadsheet into a large accordion file that has a section for each month. This accordion file will contain all of the receipts and expenses info for the year and come in handy during tax season :)