Where is your money going?

March 31, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Grandfathers expense book 1933-34  ccLicense

Grandfather's expense book 1933-34 ccLicense

The first step to budgeting is knowing where your money is going.  Many of you probably save your receipts and promptly turn them into the accountant during tax time.  This is great, but you may not have an idea of where your money is actually going.

Let’s break down some easy-peasy ways to track your expenses.  You’ll need to schedule some time each month to work on this.  Think of this as a very important appointment with yourself.

The Old Standbys

These are the most widely used systems for tracking expenses, and happen to be what I use.

  • Quickbooks is my favorite program to use, but it is expensive ($100-300) and can be tricky to learn.  I recommend this if you are interested in getting very detailed reports about your expenses.  I also think it’s essential to have something like this if you are tracking inventory.  If you don’t like numbers or don’t have very complex systems, then this is not the best program for you.
  • Excel is also one of my obsessions.  (Yes, I am a total nerd.)  I love cells and rows and columns.  If you don’t have many transactions each year, excel is a good place to start.  It’s easy to use, and most people have it on their computers.  If you aren’t trained in excel, an inexpensive course at the local college will give you the basics.

The Rookies

These are new online programs for tracking expenses.  They are user friendly and, in some cases, FREE.

  • Wesabe (www.wesabe.com) is a great online tool for tracking your expenses.  Wesabe allows you to link your bank accounts to the website.  From there, you can have a look at all of your expenses in one place.  You can tag and itemize items.  There are also great tips available for your planning.  Take a tour of Wesabe here.
  • Mvelopes (www.mvelopes.com) is an online tool known for it’s ease with budgeting.  If you are a photographer and are saving up to buy a new camera, this system would allow you to save your money in a “virtual envelope”.  The program is set up for personal financing, but would work easily for small businesses.  You can try it free for 30 days and then enroll in a quarterly or yearly plan.  Take a tour of Mvelopes here.
  • Your bank may have some easy online expense tracking and budgeting options.  Wells Fargo allows you to categorize expenses when you send payments using their bill pay.  American Expense often sends itemized bills showing charges and their classifications.

After tracking expenses for 1-3 months, you should have a good idea of where your money is going.  This will make your budgeting easy to do.  Tomorrow, we’ll share how to make a good budget and, how to stick to it!

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The “B” Word: Budget Easy-Peasy Budgeting

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bill  |  March 31, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Excellent post! I love the title, very close to the name of my company’s blog, “Where’s Our Money?“. I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post on creating a budget. Hopefully it’s not an April Fool’s joke! There’s nothing funny about budgeting.

    OK, that was a joke but budgeting is serious business and can drastically effect a newlywed couples “chances for success” not only financially but in terms of the longevity of their marriage. Financial issues are among the most common reasons cited for divorce.

    Thanks again for increasing the awareness of the important of a solid financial plan (AKA “a budget”). We hope you wouldn’t mind mentioning BudgetSketch in your follow up tomorrow. We’re the newest of “The Rookies” but we’re all about keeping it simple, yet effective. Oh, and we’re free, and always will be!

    Again, great post!

    Reply
  • 2. J. money  |  March 31, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    hell yeah, gotta figure out where it’s going baby! then you can concentrate on moving forward 🙂 I use an excel spreadsheet via google docs to help me (you can download it free off my site if you or anyone wants it), but it’s all about what works for YOU. once you master that, it’s smooth sailing!

    Reply

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