Managing household expenses can be painful. Seriously, who enjoys working hard to earn a living just to turn around and give a majority of those earnings to bill collectors? None of us do! Some of us shy away from this responsibility because the idea of paying bills feels like another job in itself.
As a single mother who’s had to manage a household on one income for the past decade, I know how important it is to be aware what is coming in and out of your wallet and what has worked for me is the use of a finance calendar.
So I bet you’re asking yourself, what is so important about using a calendar to track my monthly expenses? Well I’ll tell you! It’s a known fact that when you write things down, you are more likely to remember them. Writing down the expenses you pay every month gives you a visual look into what it’s costing you to run your household. By tracking these expenses month-to-month, you can research ways to cut back on certain spending habits as well as determine how much money you have left to do fun things with your family and for yourself. Who wouldn’t enjoy putting more money back in their pockets?
I created this finance calendar so I can keep track of all my expenses in one binder. I can also list other important dates on the calendar itself, which is very helpful. The first thing I did was gathered all of my monthly expense and bills. This includes everything you pay repeatedly on a month-to-month basis (electric, car, cell phone, groceries, etc.). Yes, it is important to set a budget on how much you want to spend on groceries whether you shop once a month or several times a month. I shop once a month, but it works for my small family especially with one child away at college and only one at home.
After you determine what your monthly expenses are, list them on the finance calendar by their due dates, this way you can ensure you are paying bills that are due first. Depending on the type of PDF software you use, you may be able to type your expenses directly on the form. Each column has a sample text of the information you can use to fill in the table. There are extra finance sheets in case you need more lines to list your expenses. Also on the bottom of the extra finance sheets, you can add up your monthly finances and subtract them from your monthly income to determine what is left as “pocket” money for the month.
Other things to consider when looking at how to manage your monthly expenses is to decide if you will pay them weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Do what works best for you and your household. I just started paying my expenses monthly because I get paid monthly. I enjoy getting it all out of the way early in the month. I use the “pocket” money that is left after my expenses are paid to determine my weekly spending allowance and what I plan to stash in my savings.
I know we are in the age of modern technology but this old-school method of keeping up with my finances has kept me on top of paying my bills on time for years. Now that I am a school counselor and work only 10 months a year, I really rely on this calendar to see where I can save money so I can enjoy the summers off versus finding a summer job.
Another important old-school tool that I use is a checkbook ledger. What! Yes, I balance my checkbook after each and every transaction I make. Now this is an old-school habit but I do use some new-school technology to help me out. No, I don’t carry a ledger book around with me in my wallet everywhere I go. I barely even carry a wallet anymore thanks to all of the different pay options we have on our phones. But I do keep track of what my bottom line is in my checking and savings accounts. I use an app called the Simple Checkbook Ledger. You can get the free app or use this more detailed one (click here) which has more options and functions. You can add your checking and savings accounts to the app. If you micromanage your money like I do, then you will love these apps.
Tracking your money as you shop helps you stay on top of what is in the bank without logging into your banking account to check. What if you write a check? How many times have you logged into your banking account and it says you have however many funds available but that check you wrote a couple of days ago hasn’t cleared yet and it’s not included in the balance you just saw? Now you think you have more funds available then you really do. If you use a checkbook ledger (app or paper), you can keep track of all of your expenses whether you swipe your card,withdraw cash from the ATM, or write a check.
This may seem like a lot of information. Find a system that works for you. Start with using the free Monthly Finance Calendar which you can get for free by clicking on any of the pictures.
Have any tools or ideas you use to mange your monthly expenses? Leave a comment!