Think you’ve got a handle on the funds coming in? Then it’s time to look at the money going out. We know this may be a difficult budgeting moment … but it’s necessary, so be brave.
Make an Inventory of Typical Expenses
Scan through activity on your checking account or check online statements to make an inventory of typical expenses.
Use this checklist to think through typical areas of expense:
- Insurance — Renters or homeowners, auto, health, life, disability?
- Household — Mortgage or rent and maintenance?
- Personal — Clothing, grooming, toiletries, child care?
- Transportation — Car payment, gas, maintenance?
- Entertainment — tickets, dining out and more?
- Education — tuition, school supplies, housing or transportation?
- Giving — Seasonal gifts for family and friends, donations to church or other organizations?
- Debt — Credit card or loan payments?
- Deductions — Taxes, benefits, allotments and retirement contributions — these are expenses, too! (well, maybe not savings and retirement contributions, but you get the point…account for them too.)
If you often use cash, write your spending down or track receipts for at least a month to get an accurate picture of where your money goes.
Be honest and true to yourself — put down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some people want to track expenses down to the penny, others like a big picture approach. It’s all good.
Do it your way — but be sure to do it.