Managing Household Finances: Keeping Track of your pennies!

28 Apr




Each Wednesday, I have posted part of a series on managing household finances.  If you have missed any of my previous posts, you can check them out here:

  1. Create a Plan
  2. Sticking to the Plan
  3. Only Spend What You Have

I mentioned in Sticking to the Plan the importance of keeping track of what you spend, but in this post I am referring to keeping track of every penny, whether coming or going.  This is the most important part of budgeting!!! If you want to successfully stick to your budget and to your financial goals, you must keep track of what is coming and going.


What do I mean by every penny you ask?  I am going to leave that up to you to decide.  My grandmother has always been good with her money.  She has always wanted to balance her checkbook to the literal exact penny.  Great!  But that’s not us.  As long as we come within a dollar, we’re ok with that.  The same applies to keeping track of your budget.  You have to find what works for you, but the important thing is that you find a way to keep track!  The next most important thing is that you keep track regularly and often.


How to Keep Track  

Here are a few ways to keep track of your pennies.  I’m sure there are a few more.  Again, the important thing is not how you keep track, but that you keep track!


1.  Online banking.  They track it for you!  However, you will have to total a daily, weekly, or monthly running tab.  For example, I keep up with my spending using a monthly running tab, but updating it weekly (see Weekly Budget Check-in).    I keep up with my income in a similar fashion. 

2.  Save your receipts.  As you spend, place your receipts in a special envelope or pocket.  At least once a week, get out your receipts, total how much you have spent, staple those receipts together, and write the amount on the envelope. 

3.  Keep a ledger.  Keep a small notebook with you at all times and jot down money as you spend/earn.


How Often You Keep Track

1.  Monthly.  If most of your bills are due monthly, then more than likely you will need a monthly budget.  But unless you are a number whiz with a photographic memory, you will probably need to keep track more often than monthly.

2.  Weekly.  This is where I am comfortable.  Although my memory is not good, I can typically remember roughly what I have spent in a week.  Double checking my memory with online banking once a week keeps me from forgetting any large purchases and blowing my monthly budget. 

3.  Daily.  Tracking daily is ideal if you have the time and patience to do so!  You are sure to know where you stand in your budget then! 


Finding What Works for You

I have still not settled on the best way to keep track.  For example, last month, I made a detailed spending log.  I didn’t use it at all!  My Weekly Budget Check-in worked great!  And having the goal to blog about it once a week really held me accountable!  So if one way isn’t working for you, try something else!  Just don’t give up!

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