The first step of budgeting is to become familiar with your spending patterns. Here is is a free printable expense tracker to help you.
If you get to the end of the week, or the end of the month and you have no idea where your money goes, then tracking your expenses day to day is a fundamental exercise in getting to know your spending habits.
projecting upcoming expenses and income, etc.
There is something about physically budgeting and tracking your expenses that is so satisfying. It also may make you more aware of your spending habits.
For printable expense tracker PDF’s like this one, or for those who need a refresher, here are the steps you need to take to track your daily spending.
1) Budget Your Expenses
Budgeting your money is the best way to start achieving good financial health. Think about all the things you spend money on during a given month. What are your daily expenses? Weekly expenses? Monthly expenses? Etc.
Once you have those all listed out, give a monetary value to each one. Think about how much you spend in a given month on these categories such as rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, the gym, etc.
2) Determine Your Spending Method
For each of your budget categories, how are you going to spend your money? Will you use cash, credit/debit, a check, or a mix?
In the notes section of the printable expense tracker, you can record which method you used if you wish. This is optional but knowing how you spend your money is still a good idea.
Your bigger categories, such as rent/mortgage, insurance, debt payments, etc, will usually go directly to the company. Since these are typically monthly fixed amounts, you can decide if you want to include them in your expense tracking or not. You can also use other financial trackers for these things.
printable everyday expense tracker
3) Record Your Transactions
Now that you have your budget and your payment methods figured out, you can start recording your transactions.
For cash, you can do this one of two ways. One way is that you can record the amount of cash you withdrew and then spend that money freely. This way is less restrictive, but you won’t get a good sense of where your money really goes.
The other way is to take out your cash without recording that part. Put your money into separate envelopes like these which helps keep your cash categories separated. Each time you spend cash from an envelope record that cash spent on the tracking sheet.
What about tracking change? This is up to you. You can either round up to the nearest dollar and then use the change freely or put towards a financial goal, or you can record the exact change on the expense tracker.