The most frequent question I get asked is, “How do I start budgeting?” My number one tip is to track expenses daily. You cannot get a handle on your budget until you know what you are spending and what is going out every month.
That dreaded “B” word – budget.
The word budget seems so constricting, doesn’t it? It always did to me. I like to say I am planning my money.
It can definitely seem daunting! But it does not have to be.
How to start budgeting?
The best place to start budgeting is to start tracking your expenses daily. You cannot budget/plan your money if you do not know where it is going. This will certainly be eye opening. Don’t be scared! You might think you have a good handle on your money and where it goes, but I can guarantee you that when you start tracking every single penny that you spend, you will find room in your budget to save a bit more or to pay off a little more debt every month.
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5 Reasons Why You Should Track Expenses Daily
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Tracking Expenses Daily Becomes a Habit
Habits take time, the general rule of thumb is 30 days. So give yourself 30 days and start tracking every expense, whether it be your daily coffee or your mortgage payment. Once you get into the habit of writing down every expense, it will become automatic.
Yes, I said WRITE it down. I encourage you to go old school here. Print out the free expense tracker below and carry it with you for the next 30 days. Grab a pen or pencil and write those expenses down. No fancy apps right now, you need to develop this habit and writing the expenses down will increase the likelihood that you will be successful.
You will be Encouraged to Live Within your Means
When you start tracking your expenses daily, you will be more in tune with the money that you actually have in your bank account or in your pocket. You will not be tempted to pull out that credit card to pay for something since you will have a good idea of what you can spend. More than likely you will have a better handle on your bank balances and what your budget is for certain categories.
Do you really have the money for that gorgeous new purse or that new laptop? Keeping track of your expenses daily and writing them down (old school, remember?) will encourage you to weigh that decision against other priorities.
You will Know Where your Money is Going
You know the feeling, you withdraw cash from the ATM and then POOF, it is gone! You have no idea where all that money went and nothing to show for it.
Now, if you are writing down all of your expenses, you will know exactly where that money went. No more guessing when you are trying to account for it when you finally input your expenses into your budget spreadsheet or program that you use. You will know you spent $10 on tacos and $20 at the consignment shop and $15 on gas. Imagine that feeling?
Curb Impulse Spending
Picture this, you are having a fabulous day with friends and you are all shopping at your favorite mall. You are in your favorite store and everyone is buying whatever they want, not even looking at price tags. Whaaaat? Not you, right? Because you know how much you can spend. You are not going to buy that $80 shirt today, but you can buy that $30 shirt. (Who spends $80 on a shirt anyways?) You can spend that $30 because that is in your budget that you already set for yourself before you went on this glorious shopping trip. You know what your budget is because you have been tracking expenses. Hmmm, see how that works?
When you track expenses daily, you become more in tune with your money and you will make better decisions.When you track expenses daily, you become more in tune with your money and you will make better decisions. Click To Tweet
You will Become Financially Disciplined
You are in control of your money and you make the decisions. YOU rule your money, not the other way around. Again, being financially disciplined does not mean you are poor.
The more you make decisions on every single dollar that you spend, the more you feel in control of your money. You will start to feel that you have more money, even though the bottom line really does not change, because you are consciously spending money.
Download this FREE expense tracker and start writing down every expenditure.
Write it down.
Every. Single. Penny.
You will be glad you did.
If you are looking for more information on budgeting, start with How to Set up a Budget – The First Steps