A family friend always told me, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend.” Think about it. There are families who earn $50,000 and are doing okay because they live within their means. There are also people who earn $75,000 – $200,000 who are broke or going bankrupt. Certainly, everyone needs to have a decent source of income. Once that need is met, it really is all about the spending. And we are all experts at spending, aren’t we?
Since it’s all about the spending, we have a special assignment for you. It’s time to take a quick look at where you are spending your money. If you can name your top 5 monthly expenses right now, then you’re exempt from this assignment. Otherwise, pull out your bank statements and let’s get to work.
Step 1: Print two copies of the following chart to track your spending.
Plan to fill out a monthly expense tracker for last month, and another one for the month before. This way you will have two months of statements to review.
Step 2: Gather the resources needed for this project:
- bank statements (i.e. debit card transactions)
- credit card statements
- receipts for cash payments
- utility bills
Step 3: One statement at a time, go line by line, determine the category, and enter the amounts in a column.
Step 4: Add up the totals for each line:
|Auto: Car Payment|
|Auto: Excise Tax|
Once everything is put into a category, add up each line. For example, you’ll need to know the total for car payment, excise tax, gas, inspection, insurance, and maintenance.
Step 6. Get a sub total for each category:
Step 7: Determine the top 5 expenses, and enter them in the chart.
Top 5 Expenses
Congratulations, you know your top 5 expenses. If money is tight, start at the top, and look for ways to cut back the expenses.
- We will post a separate article with tips on how to reduce your expenses.
- In addition, you’ll learn how to use this information to set up a monthly budget.
Happy Bean Counting!
P.S. This information is not meant to be financial advice. We are simply sharing information that has worked for our family. Please be sure to read our disclaimer statement. Click here