Raise your hand if you think the hardest part of adulting is finances? I promise I just raised my hand! I’ve been doing a “daily” check log to track my expenses in my checking account for the last year or so. I put daily in quotes because I should be doing it daily, but it’s more like I do it when I start to panic about my spending and have no idea where my bank account is at. So I update it approximately once a week.
One of my November goals was to actually update it daily, which I have not done. This month has been a bit crazy financially because it’s the first month my husband and I have had a joint account, and I’m still using my individual account for some things. This means I’m trying to manage two check logs, and the joint one is really difficult. We just spent thirty minutes arguing about whether one of his charges was for gas or groceries (he couldn’t remember). Before we had a joint account, he didn’t keep track of his finances as meticulously as I have, so adjusting to how I’m doing it is a bit challenging for him. We’re only a couple of weeks into doing this jointly, so my hope is that he learns to start saving receipts or making notes in his phone.
My budget and check register are the only things that can make me feel somewhat sane when it comes to money. I use an Excel spreadsheet for my check register, and it automatically calculates everything for me. Here’s a blank one:
I do an individual one for each month, and I do a big running total one. This allows me to see how closely we stick to our monthly budget, and what our entire year looks like.
At the start of the month, I add the beginning balance of the account, and I put in the monthly bills we have (based on our budget). It looks like this:
Let me just note that all of these numbers are examples. I would literally cry out of pure happiness if we could find a rental for $250 a month.
I also use a highlight system. So once a bill is paid, I highlight it blue. Once it is pending in the account, I highlight it yellow. Once it is done pending, I highlight it green. Here’s an example:
So this means that rent has been paid but is not reflecting in our account yet, Comcast has been paid and is no longer pending in our account, and our Amazon Prime and Sephora Play! subscriptions have been paid but are still pending. The remaining expenses are not highlighted because they’re not due until later in the month, so they have not yet been paid.
As the month goes on, I add in our additional expenses that are not a “fixed” amount or due date. This includes things like gas and groceries. We do have a budget for things, but obviously the dates and amounts are sporadic throughout the entire month. Further into the month, my check register looks like this:
The reason I want to be updating this every day is because it gives such a clear picture of where our checking account is at during any point in the month. It’s easy to see that by November 5th we have spent $30 on gas. If our gas budget is $50 then we already know we’re in trouble. However, if our gas budget is $300 then we know that we’re still doing fine in that category.
I love that looking at this spreadsheet tells me that my checking out is at $1472 on November 5th and will be at $1232 after my remaining monthly bills are paid. This provides me so much peace of mind and organization.
This is what I have found to be a really successful way for me to track my monthly expenses. I do slack off on updating it sometimes, but even doing it once a week is super helpful.
Have you found a successful way to track your finances? Share in the comments!
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