100 Words On: The Importance of Tracking Your Expenses

It’s true; there are many folks out there who successfully manage their household finances without ever using a budget. That being said, most of those people still track their income and expenses. That’s because trying to get a handle on your personal finances without knowing how much money you are earning and where it is all going is tantamount to trying to drive while blindfolded.

The bottom line: Taking the time to analyze your finances is a crucial element of managing your personal finances. Doing so uncovers hidden money leaks that help you better allocate your resources and ensures you get the most out of your income.

Photo Credit: Gastev



Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I’m one of those people who don’t use a budget, because I don’t care which category my money is spent in. But, I do know how much is coming in, how much is going out and where it’s going. I have always been very good with numbers and doing them in my head isn’t a problem. Also, my income and expenses are relateive stable.

    Most important, I save a big chunk of my paycheck, before I spend a single dime.

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      As my income has risen, we’ve basically stopped budgeting — but we still keep meticulous track of our expenses too, Bret.

      And I agree; having your savings and as many bills as possible deducted from your paycheck helps a lot when it comes to getting by without a budget.

  2. 4

    says

    I can’t imagine not having a budget. I’d be back to square one; over drafting my bank account and not knowing where all my money went! I’m so glad I figured out long ago how to make a budget and stick to it (for the most part. ;) )

    • 5

      Len Penzo says

      Budgets were really important to me when I was making a lot less. I couldn’t have managed my finances without one, but I know lots of folks who really think they are not necessary. But that’s why it’s called “personal” finance, right, Jen? ;-)

  3. 6

    says

    I like the way krantcents put it; budgets most certainly are a road map to our financial goals, and the more careful we are in our planning the more detailed our navigational resources will be along the way. More power to the folks that can get by without an established budget, but I for one know that I will continue paying close attention to mine as I work towards financial milestones along the way.

  4. 7

    Len Penzo says

    Regarding the road maps, we do still budget for what I call “strategic” goals — that is, big stuff like vacations, house remodeling, etc.

    We just don’t do it for the more “tactical” stuff anymore like groceries, clothes and utility bills. I think the only thing we still try to budget for on a monthly basis is eating out at restaurants, if only because those costs can really escalate quickly if you’re not careful.

  5. 8

    Spedie says

    I cannot ever imagine not having a budget. when I was 12 years old by a month, I had to pay rent, due on the first, every single month my evil Dad and his crazy wife.

    As more stuff and life happened, I always waited to have the money, on the first of the month, always…now for over thirty years. I not only had a budget, but I lived a month ahead from the beginning of my money making career, let it be mowing lawns, etc. I did not like to babysit, and I am female, bur I would do it occasionally for the cash.

    I am forty eight.

    I have lived my whole life in a budget, there is no free for all at my house.

    I will not put down my potential retirement because I spent money at Starbucks, etc. I know where every penney goes, and always have.

    Spedie, the just about millionaire..

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      You’ve really got your act together, Spedie. That’s awesome! Let this be a lesson to all you folks out there who think budgets and tracking expenses aren’t important; they are!

  6. 12

    says

    I don’t budget as frequently as I did a few years ago, but I still feel the need to write down where I want my money to go at least once a month. It makes me feel powerful over my money. Also, I do think it’s important to know where your money is going. For instance, I want to know I’m spending $700 a month on food. That lets me know there’s possibly some waste or mindless spending in that category. Obviously, money that’s not put to its optimal use can and should be allocated elsewhere.

  7. 13

    says

    I think budgeting can be simplified to tacking two categories:
    % Saved
    % Spent

    You can divide the % Spent up into categories to try to optimize them and get a higher %Saved, but if you are happy with your %Saved you don’t need to, and after you have optimized your spending once there is much less to gain by doing it again.

    If you make the % Saved automatic (i.e. payroll deductions & automatic transfers) then you just have to make sure you spend less than you earn. I find it is fairly easy to keep an eye on my bank balance for that- any time I come close to $1000 left I need to cut back on spending for a while. If the balance drifts up I can spend a bit more.

    -Rick Francis

    • 14

      jeb says

      This is basically how I do it now too. I’ve had a budget since my first job at age 10. I’ve pretty much taught myself not to spend money. I save over 50% of my take-home off the top. The rest can be spent, and since I spend so little I can keep a close enough estimate in my head or wallet.

  8. 15

    Sassy Mamaw says

    Similar to some other commenters, I have my savings and retirement, and many of my bills automatically deducted from my pay. I have a few checks I write, and I have them in their envelopes and ready to mail on payday. At that point, whatever is left, is what I have to spend. Groceries, gasoline, entertainment. Oh, and I keep a ‘sinking fund’ for occasional items like clothing and
    car insurance.

  9. 16

    says

    I only use a pen and my notebook to do all the budgeting stuff that I need to do, and it really helped me track of my money well. I was also able to save more money by just following my budget plan.

  10. 17

    says

    Having a budget has been essential to my sanity and to helping me get my finances on track after accumulating tons of debt from my startup. Also I just made the decision to buy a house; my budget was what helped me determine the kind of house I would get. I sat down with my financial advisor and looked at my budget and said, “no I dont want to disrupt it by taking on a huge mortgage even though the bank says I can afford more, I want to focus on paying off this house and getting another property for investment purposes instead and a huge mortgage will hamper those plans.”

  11. 18

    says

    Yes vangile You must know when you SHOULD create a budget.You better start tracking where your money is coming from and where it’s going.

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