Tracking Spending: My May Money Challenge

May 5, 2010 in Saving

I cannot believe that it’s already May!  I recently decided that I’m going to use the beginning of each month to challenge myself to do something that can help to improve my budget.  For May, I’m going to do a better job of tracking my daily spending.  I do a pretty good job of watching my spending each month, but think I should take the time to really see where every cent goes.

Some Ways to Track Spending

Spending Journals

I’ve earnestly tried to keep a spending journal in the past.  I’d start strong with writing everything down in a small notebook I kept in my purse, but that would last for all of two weeks…tops.  I’m sure this probably works for a lot of people, but I don’t trust myself to write everything down.

Reviewing Debit and Credit Transactions Online

This is what I usually do to track my spending.  It works pretty well at giving me a general idea of what I’m spending, but I often forget about the specific items I pay for with cash.  I also don’t really consider how much I’m spending until it’s time to pay a bill.

Personal Finance Software

There seems to be a lot of great options out there for tracking personal spending online or through software programs like Quicken and Microsoft Money.  I love the idea of setting up a Mint, Wesabe, or Buxfer account, but I want to do a little more research before settling on a program.

Keeping Receipts

I’m going to track my spending by making a conscious effort to save all of my receipts (and making notes of anything I don’t get a receipt for).  At the end of the month, I’ll go through them to get a better idea of where my money is going.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren May 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

I have a budget tracking spreadsheet I made in excel – complete with pie chart – that I find very helpful to track every penny into categories. I’ll be happy to share. :o)

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single&saving May 5, 2010 at 10:42 am

I’d love to check out your budget tracking spreadsheet! Please send it my way.

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Lauren Hill May 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

Andrea,

Tracking your spending is a great way to see exactly where you spend your money and which categories need a little pruning. I’ve not used any of the personal finance programs you mentioned but I do track each and every purchase in my checkbook registry. I also take out cash for specific purchases like gas and groceries each week and limit myself to spending no more than the cash on hand for these purchases.

Regards,
Lauren Hill

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single&saving May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I like the idea of tracking everything and setting aside cash for certain purhases. Thanks for your comment, Lauren!

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Katie May 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I also use a homemade Excel sheet to track spending by category. It is a huge help to keep me on track with my budget and see where my money goes. I’ve tried Mint.com and I think it could be great, but it does take a little time to get it all set up. Overall, I think the Excel route works just as well :) Good luck this month – still loving your site!!

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single&saving May 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

I’d love to check out your Excel spreadsheet too, Katie. I’ve made a couple, but ended up not being very good with entering the information and/or didn’t really like the format of the sheets I made. Thanks for still reading (all the way from Ohio)!

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liz May 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I use mint & love it :) it doesn’t take long to set up at all and is really easy to use. it takes the place of a spending journal since it downloads all of my electronic transactions whenever I log in.. as for cash I take out $200 at the beginning of the month and keep it in an envelope, and then whatever I pay for with cash, I get a receipt and stick that into the envelope or a note with the amount ($15 to Jane for lunch, etc) …the amounts on the receipts should equal what was taken out. I used to have budgets set up for eating out and shopping that I used my debit card for, but my May challenge was to use cash for those things and hopefully reduce my spending… so far so good :)

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