Do you know where your money goes? Take control of your finances, track your daily spending and expenses using FREE spending log and transform your finances.
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Do you struggle with managing money?
Maybe you always find yourself asking the question of “Where did the money go”?
You have money coming, but you have no idea where it goes. With no spending log or expense tracker in place, at the end of each of the month, you try to rack your brain trying to recall the purchase you had made.
It is a continual cycle of always wondering what you spent the money on. Continually struggling to manage money, not being able to put anything aside for saving or save as much as you wanted.
I have spent the last couple of years of my life wasting money, not tracking my spending that every time I have to ask myself where the money went to. I am sick of not knowing where the money goes.
With a sudden, aha moment, I realized things need to change so I can be able to reach my financial goals. I need to be in control of my finances. That means knowing where the money comes and where the money goes.
Something needed to be done.
It was time I took control of my finances, starting with the use of a spending log so I can look back on and know exactly where the money had been spent without racking my brain.
I have been keeping a spending log for a couple of months now and it is liberating to know where the money goes.
Something I wished I had started a long time ago.
Let’s go over what a spending log is, how it can help you take control of your finances and the tools you can use to start tracking your spending.
What Is A Spending Log?
Spending log is a system you create to track your daily spending and expenses. It keeps a record every time money is spent by recording the item purchased, the date of purchase, the amount paid, and where the money was spent.
With a spending log, you know where the money goes. You know how much that goes towards groceries, utilities, eating out, clothing.
It is a record of everything you spend down to the last cents.
Why Should I Track My Spending?
It is a daunting task trying to recall and do the math in your head of what you purchased and how much you spent.
Before I started a spending log to track my spending, every month, I will try to rack my brain to recall the purchases I had made. It was a lot of work and stress. Why did I have to put myself through all that stress when there was a simple solution available?
The brain is for processing information and not storing information.
Maybe you are asking yourself if it is important to keep track of those spending.
My question for you is Why not?
Business use programs like Quickbooks to keep a record of their expenses because they know the importance of those numbers.
A spending log will give you a breakdown of expenses.
The Importance Of Spending Log
1. You Know Where The Money Goes.
One of the main reason I started a spending log is I don’t get to ask myself again where the money went or ponder on how I had spent money – Ever. Keeping that record tells you where every penny goes.
A lot of people don’t know how to manage their money and basically have no idea of where their money is going. Tracking your spending or expenses will tell you exactly where your money goes. It gives you an idea of how much you spend on food, clothing, and even gas every month.
2. It Helps You Save Money
I am always looking for ways to cut back on spending so I can save money. Having a record of recurring purchases will enable you to analyze those recurring purchases and identify items that are not needed.
Hence, you can stay away from those items in future purchases. You can stop buying those items you really don’t need. Maybe you have been spending a lot of money eating out than you intended. Without a spending log to track your daily spending, you have no way of knowing.
3. Helps You Identify Your Needs And Wants
With a spending tracker, you take note of the items you need and the things you want. Your needs are those essential items while your Wants are those things you can put on hold or delayed because they’re not necessary.
So, when you analyze your spending, you can see those items you recorded as wants and you can allocate the money towards your needs or something more important.
4. You Become More Mindful With Money
I have become more intentional with money since starting a spending log. Now that I keep a spending tracker, I tend to question every purchase I make as opposed to when I had no log to track those expenses.
Before now, when I walked into a supermarket, a lot of random items gets into the shopping cart, but now, I am more mindful with what I buy.
Keeping a record will make you more mindful with money. You become more aware or conscious of how you spend money. Developing that consciousness about money makes you stop making impulse buying or buying items you do not need.
5. It Helps You Create The Right Budget
If you want to reach your financial goal, you need to develop the habit of budgeting. Budgeting gives you control over your money, and you determine how much you need to spend on each category.
With budgeting, you tell your money where to go. When you track your daily spending, you have an idea of how much you need to budget for each, so you do not over budget or under budget in some areas.
How Can I Track My Spending?
Having proper money management is making sure you have a good system in place. This system refers to the steps you need to take every time money comes in and goes out.
That means making a budget when money comes and keeping track when cash goes out. Tracking your spending is not all there is to money management, but it is a step in the right direction.
So, how do you track your spending?
It is by writing down every single item you purchase every day even to the last cents. Every cash or credit card purchase is recorded on paper or using budgeting apps.
Whenever money comes in, you write it down, and whenever money goes out, you write it down using any of the tools we will look at soon.
It is that simple.
Whenever you pay for gas, you record it, whenever you buy milk you write it down. The beginning may be hard, and you may forget to register those online purchase you make. But just like everything, it requires practice.
Ways To Keep Track Of Your Expenses
There isn’t any magic formula when it comes to starting a spending log. All you need is any one of the tools we will look at soon to record;
- Date – when the item was purchased
- Item – item purchased
- Quantity – the number of items bought
- Amount – how much you spent
- Category – Category to classify the item
- Income – the source of income if having multiple sources
- Wants – less essential items that can be delayed
- Needs – essential items for daily use
- Merchant – which store did you make the purchase
- Payment method – use of credit card or cash
There are different tools you can use to keep track of your expenses. You may need to try various tools to see which one works best for you. Each tool comes with its pros and cons.
You are not limited to using just one tool.
You can use track your purchases either using the good old school way or the digital method.
1.Pen and Paper
This is the old school way of tracking your expenses. With the rise in technology, pen, and paper is still being used quite often. More people still do prefer to use pen and paper because of the benefit of keeping our brain active when writing.
Based on research carried out, it is known that when you write, your brain is more active during that process.
The downside to using pen and paper comes from the fact that you may forget to record some expenses because you probably don’t carry it along with you everywhere. Sometimes, those online purchases are not recorded. Also, it can get lost.
Some of pen and paper tools you can use include;
If you have not yet gotten in the game of using printables, then you need to jump on the bandwagon because you are late for the party. Printables have been trending and making waves like bullet journals.
Bullet journal And Notebooks
Just like printables, bullet journals are also a new trend. It has been making headlines and millennials are obsessed with it. You can get creative with them and make them pretty just the way you like.
If you don’t want to deal with the mess of having paper flying around when using printables, you can go for bullet journals.
There are amazing budgeting planners you can use to track your expenses. And they still work great. With planners, they come in different sizes, and you easily carry around.
Check out these amazing budgeting planners you can use to start tracking your expenses.
2. Digital Tracking
Maybe you still don’t get the hype when it comes to using pen and paper and would rather stay paperless. If you don’t want to stick with the old school way, you can use the digital method to track those spending.
The important thing is whatever tool you are using, make sure to record every penny you spend so you can keep track of where that money is going. The digital tools you can use include the use of budgeting apps, programs, and spreadsheets.
You may be thinking you are not good with numbers and can’t do the math. With spreadsheets, you don’t need to worry about that because it does the math for you. All you need to do is enter the figures and use the formulas to do the math.
With spreadsheets, you can customize it the way you want, create charts and pivot tables to have data summarization. There is a lot of free budgeting spreadsheet template available in Excel or Google Docs that you can use.
The downside to using spreadsheets is that you need to turn on your computer every day to type in those numbers. If you know you won’t be sitting in front of the screen every day, then this might not be for you.
What Is The Best Way To Keep Track Of Your Spending?
There is no right or wrong way to track one’s expenses. I will recommend using a combination of any of the tools mentioned above. You can use both printables and any of the budgeting apps like Mint, YNAB or Quicken.
You will need to try out different tools to see what works best for you.
How Do I Analyze My Spending?
To reach those financial goals, you need to stay on top of your finances.
If you are just starting out with a spending log, you can keep track of what you spend for a month, and it will give you an idea of what is taking the most amount of your money. With a month’s data, you can look at your needs and your wants to see where you can cut back.
Take a couple of minutes every week at least to analyze your finances see what you have spent.
From your monthly spending, you will be able to create a budget that works for you. Analyze your fixed expenses and your variable expense.
Fixed expenses are those recurring payments you make every month, which are the same like rent, insurance, childcare, phone bill while variable costs are groceries, entertainment, clothing, household supplies.
You may not be able to reduce your fixed costs because those are standard, but you may be able to cut back on your variable expenses. Look at your wants versus needs. Are there any fixed monthly payments that you make which are wants like Netflix, phone bill that you can get rid of or reduce?
Develop Good Spending Habits
It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.
~ Charles A. Jaffe
Saving can sometimes seem like an impossible task especially when you have low income, but with proper budgeting and good spending habit, you can be able to save money towards that dream vacation to Hawaii you have been meaning to take for a while.
Cutting back on your spending will mean developing a good spending habit so you can reach your financial target. Some habits you consider;
- Buying store brand
- Avoid impulse buying
- Question every purchase
- Use cash for everything (if possible)
- Record every purchase
- Create a monthly budget.
When it comes to tracking your spending, there is no right or wrong way but rather making sure each cent is recorded.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE Spending log Printable. I also gave a bonus – a FREE Bill Tracker to track those recurring bills.
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What is your take on keeping a spending log? Do you think it can help you be in more control of your finances?
Let me know in the comment section below.
Welcome! I’m Mariette and a mom to a toddler. While trying to improve my life, manage my home and time, I will also like to help you do the same. I am passionate about inspiring other moms to get organize and simplify their life so they can thrive at motherhood and work. Learn more –>