I recommend ONE thing for everyone in the new year. It is the GREATEST opportunity that ANYONE has to save money. The solution: Track your expenses.
Stop telling yourself that you will save money or start thinking about retirement when you make more money. Remember God’s principle, Luke 16:11 (NASB) “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” In the same way, if you are not wise with what you have, how can you expect to be wise with more?
You CANNOT control the amount of money that you make. You CAN control the amount that you spend. Tracking your expenses is the main key to saving money, no if’s ands or buts about it. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. You must be honest with yourself first and foremost.
I’ve cleaned up my 2009 files and started 2010 in tracking my expenses.
This is my process.
First, create a monthly budget and estimate your expenses. Start an excel sheet and along the top make a horizontal column and write in your estimated budget categories (ie. income/taxes/giving/food/rent/savings/investments/debts etc. anything that you spend money on).
Underneath each category make another horizontal column and write the estimated $ budget amount that you’ve determined for that month.
Then, on the left make a vertical column for each day of the month. Print separate sheets for each month and keep it in close quarters. SIDE NOTE: This isn’t something you need to print next to the front door so people can see it when they come in. Keep it private, maybe next to your bed. I put mine on a bulletin board and it hides behind a tv so it isn’t standing out.
To Do: Determine your best way to record expenses.
What I do: Every night before I go to bed I recall everything I bought that day and write it on the date corresponding to the budget category.
This will allow you to keep tabs on where your money is going and how much you estimate that you spend. Once you do this for a couple of months, you should look at Crowne Financial’s estimated spending plan [here] and determine, based on your living situation, if your estimated budget categories are reasonable by calculating your own percentages and comparing.
Keeping an eye on where your money is going is THE GREATEST WAY TO SAVE MONEY. It is also the greatest way to be able to BUY WHATEVER YOU WANT. If you know you want to buy something that is expensive but of great value to you, you can prepare and plan for it by cutting your expenses in other categories for months or possibly years depending on how big the purchase. Then you can go and buy it with cash. Yeah, I know, this takes self control.
If you need a kickstart in saving money, I would suggest Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover”. But, even more than that, because I am a Christian, I like to take into account what God has to say about money. You can join a Crown Financial Class and to get some accountability with a small group and a coach to learn God’s principles and apply invaluable money management principles to your life. [Click here] to learn more.