“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship” Benjamin Franklin
If you work so hard for your money, why do you find it difficult to track how you spend every dime? Is it because you think some expenses are too small to matter? I have some news for you – the small expenses we dismiss as insignificant add up to big bucks. When you realize the significance of the so-called small expenses, you will discover that there is nothing small about small expenses. It’s, therefore, important for you to develop the discipline of tracking how you spend each and every coin you earn.
Why do you need to track your expenses?
- Financial reality check
Maintaining a trail of your money shines a light upon your money personality. It tells you who you really are. How you spend money reflects your priorities and level of self-discipline or lack of it. A record of how you’ve spent every coin within a given period of time helps you to face the truth about your financial priorities no matter how bitter it is.
- Know where your money is going
Do you ever wonder where your money goes or do you feel like your moneybag has invisible holes? If you do, you need to start tracking your expenses and you will discover that there is nothing magical or mysterious about your disappearing bucks. Your money isn’t vanishing, you are just spending it mindlessly.
- Set your priorities right
How can you have your financial priorities right when you’ve got no clue how you’re using the financial resources at your disposal? You cannot set your money priorities unless you take a hard look at what you have and how you are spending it.
- Set realistic financial goals
We have a tendency to make lofty financial goals. Most of the time, we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to financially. Tracking our expenses puts our spending in perspective and help us to know how to set sensible financial goals.
- Take control of your spending
As David Ramsey says, “You must gain control over your money or lack of it will forever control you.” Unless you make a deliberate choice and effort to reign over your money through the tracking of its outflow, your money will reign over you perpetually and you will loathe its lordship.
What do you need to successfully track your expenses?
1.Acknowledgment- you need to admit that your spending plan is either flawed or inexistent and acknowledge the need to change. After all, you can never change that which you don’t acknowledge.
2.Make a decision and commit to it- once you recognize your need for change, make a decision to account for every cent that you earn and stick with that decision. No matter how tedious and intimidating you think the process is, pursue it, it’s worth every effort you make.
3. Absolute honesty- be truthful in the recording of your expenses. If honesty isn’t one of your traits, learn it, if you can’t, don’t bother with the practice. Liars make sloppy expenses trackers.
How do you track your expenses?
I advocate for the good old days of a notebook and pen. But who I’m I kidding, some people haven’t used a notebook for a decade. You can track your expenses:
a. Manually- this involves recording all your expenses in a notebook. You could congregate all your expenses in a single page or create a page for each expense category and subcategory. At the end of the month or week, you sum up your expenses and compare them with the budgetary allocations you made at the beginning of the month.
b. Tracking Software- there are several online software and applications that can help you track your expenses. Am no expert on apps and software. I, however, found very helpful information in Best Budgeting apps and spending trackers
c. Hybrid of Manual and Software- some folks find it easier to combine both methods. You can record all your expenses in a notebook and then transfer them to your app or software at the end of the week. I find this style very convenient. It also grants me an opportunity to have serious reflections about my spending habits for the week.
If you are in need of developing discipline in how you spend your money, expenses tracking is the way to go. The task may seem daunting and intimidating but it’s worth every effort. Track your expenses like your financial survival and success depends on it because it does.
Below is a PDF template that can help you in track your spending. It’s my gift to you. Kindly download and feel free to personalize it to meet your needs.