Doing up a budget is like engaging in a diet program. After you have engaged in the program, you need to track your performance and whether the program is effective. Likewise, doing up the budget is only the first part. To have an effective budget, you need to track it, review it and amend it along the way in order to move closer to your financial goals. How to track expenses?
When you track your spending and check it against the budget, you need to be truthful. It is very easy to fall into the trap of “maybe I don’t include this (already incurred) item in the tracking since I probably will be cutting it and not spending”. You have spent the monies and it is gone, don’t stay in illusion.
If you have over-spent in one expense category and not spending in another category, are you able to transfer the budget between category? There is no hard and fuss rule to this. To me, as long as I am able to analyse my expenses properly, transferring between category is akin to transferring from left pocket to right pocket or vice-versa. At the end of the day, you want to know where you can trim the fats and how effective is your program. It doesn’t matter if you trim it through pilates or cardio exercise although that does impact on the speed of burning your fats.
To track spending effectively and efficiently, you have to stay focused on your goals. You need to constantly remind yourself of your financial objectives in order to make an effort to track against the budget set. One suggestion, if your goal is to move to a bigger house, you can consider keeping a happy family photo in your wallet or set it as wallpaper on your mobile phone and look at it when you are losing steam!
To facilitate in tracking our spending, we use one or two standard credit cards for all household expenses. This also enable us to accumulate spending for cash rebates! Additionally, we have a common bank account for the household expenditure.
There are several ways of tracking the spending, you can do it using an application in your smart phone or ipad, an Excel spreadsheet, or simply on paper. We choose to track it using an apps in the iphone which enable us to share the data and update our cash spending individually into the apps. The apps also allows us to reconcile our spending, create expenses report by category and compare the actual spending against the budget.
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