Back in June Jack and I realized one day that all the money in our bank account had vanished, or at least it seemed that way. Desperate to find out where it had run off to I decided that we needed to start keeping track of our money. I printed off our entire bank history for the month of June and was shocked at what I found. Over the course of a month we had spent $310 on eating out on the weekends a lone, $116 at just dunkin donuts, $245 on miscellaneous things, $230 on new clothes (which were needed as I was not fitting into my clothes), $535 on groceries, and $335 on gas. I was literally in shock $310 on weekend meals was absurd, that's over $75 every weekend on just eating out. Clearly we needed to change our spending habits and with a new baby coming a long we needed to do it fast.
I started keeping track of my spending by creating an excel spreadsheet (I know I'm seriously addicted to them, but they're sooooo helpful) I created a list of spending categories and put them into columns on my spreadsheet. The categories are as follows:
1) Fast Food
Everyday I print out my bank history from the day prior and put what I spent in the appropriate category. So for example if on my statement it says that I spent $43 at Hannaford I'll type that in to the groceries column. I then total it at the bottom. I create an equation by totaling all my spending categories and subtracts them from my income. So if my paycheck was for $400 and all I spent was the $43 from Hannaford then the equation would say =sum(400-43) and would reveal that I had an extra $357.
For the month of July I didn't do this, because we were in New Orleans for two weeks and our spending was out of whack so there was no way I would get any useful information from it. I did do it again in August and was honestly shocked at what I found. After being more aware of where our money was going we were able to seriously drop down our needless spending. Eating out went from $426 to $373, Miscellaneous went from $245 to $73, and Shopping (or clothes) went from $230 to $84.On just those categories we were able to save $371 a month that's $4,452 a year just by being more aware of where our money is going. Not only that but I've only been doing this for two months I'm so excited to see what Septembers spending is going to look like.
If you don't like the idea of having to type up everything and spend the time every day tracking your spending there is also a great website/app called Mint
It's really fantastic and I highly recommend it. The only thing is if you're one of those people who doesn't like to give their information out it's not the product for you, because you have to give it your username and password for every bank account, loan, credit card you have. It is very safe though I did a lot of research before giving it all my information and there were no complaints and I have not had any issues (hopefully that's how it still stands) Definitely do research on it before you sign up. If you do decide to use it though you will not be dissapointed. It does all the hard work of creating a budget and listing out your spending habits for you and puts it all in a nice pie chart!
You can create your own budgeting rules or you can ask it to make suggestions for you. It actually takes your monthly income amount and makes recommendations for what you should be spending each month on certain categories such as shopping and groceries. It lets you know if you're getting close to your monthly budget and let's you know if you've gone over.
One of my favorite parts about this app is it tells me what my balance is on all my credit cards, student loans, and car loans. It also tells you how much or how little you are in debt and compares it to your monthly income ,so it is actually calculating your debt to asset ratio for you. This app is pretty much having a financial adviser in your pocket, but with out all the fees. There are so many more things that this app does, but you should seriously look it up for yourselves because I could write an entire post about each individual thing.
I loved this app but found it more useful for me to use my spreadsheets only because I'm so picky about things and I like to put in what I spent myself.