Mr. BLB and I do not underestimate the value of a budget, using money that you only have (only using debit cards or cash) and tracking your expenses.
Tracking monthly expenses such as car payments, mortgages, utilities (on a budget plan) are easy because they are unvarying and those are tracked in a monthly budget. Expenses such as eating out, groceries, and gas are not. Sure we can budget for them all we want, but without tracking how much we are spending along the way for each and every transaction, the monthly budget means nothing.
There are automated tools you can purchase for your personal and business expense tracking. You can even get expense tracking software on your phone. For us, we opted for something more “organic”.
Several friends suggested the Envelope Method. This is a good method and works for a lot of people but for us, we knew we would not like the hassle of carrying around cash envelopes.
Another couple suggested we track each and every transaction in a notebook, an Excel Sheet, etc. But the idea of just documenting was not enough for me. I wanted to document each transaction and get a running total right then and there along with the remaining budget amount. For example, if I spent $4 on eating out and another $5, I wanted something to tell me you have spent $9 and have $1 left. The SUM Formula in Excel only works when you highlight several cells to get a total but I wanted a running total. See the difference? If not, no worries, keep reading. You will understand it soon.
After searching and probing, I finally found macros that can do that functionality. And with some formatting, I created my very own:
Daily Transaction Tracker – Template
Note: WordPress does not allow uploads of Excel files. I uploaded in PDF just for view. If you would like me to send you the Transaction Tracker (working Excel), leave me a comment with your email.
This is so easy to use! At any point during the month, we have an accurate snapshot of how much we have spent and how much we have left. This tool takes out all the guess-work! Again, the expenses I record are varying expenses.
At the end of each day or at the beginning of each day, I check our bank accounts online and record purchases we have made under the appropriate category. While you may have a monthly budget, this can serve as a supplementary tool for tracking the everyday expenses you make. I figured if I have time to check my email(s), I have a couple more minutes to track our expenses.
Another thing that has been really helpful with using the Transaction Tracker is the varying non-monthly items such as gifts, doctor visits or RX, etc. Mr. BLB and I have a monthly budget amount that takes care of all miscellaneous expenses. You can do that or even better, you can set a budget for each and every miscellaneous category. You will have to figure out what works best for you.
The tool is really easy to use. If you get in the habit of tracking your expenses daily, you gain that much more control over your finances.
For directions on how to use the Transaction Tracker, click on the following (this will open a word document with the directions):
Transaction Tracker Directions
If you have any questions on how to use the Transaction Tracker, leave me a comment with your question and your email and I would be happy to help!