Happy New Year everyone! As you all know, I’ve declared 2019 the “Money Year”, so I thought it would be a great idea to start the year off right with a blog post on tracking expenses and setting realistic goals for to save as much money as possible in 2019! I’m by no means a finance guru, and everyone’s needs are different; but when I started the “For the Love of Money” series, my intent wasn’t just to provide a regular-schmegular guide with tips I found on Google. No- we’re on this journey together, with my first and foremost financial goal for this year of purchasing a home. I also want to encourage conversation among women about money, because I believe that now more than ever we should have control over our finances. We all have our personal goals for our finances, or maybe we don’t. In this post, I’ll share some tips that have helped my family in controlling our expenses as well as some saving tips that we’ve implemented.
It’s important that I reiterate my main point from the first post in this series, that in order to get your money together, loving money is essential. To sum up my reasoning from part one, it is difficult for us to care about and prioritize something that we don’t have love. By loving our money, we will be inclined to be responsible with it, and do all we can to keep it.
Tracking Your Expenses
January is a great time to begin putting the reins on reckless spending, and a great way to do that it to track your expenses. There are countless apps out there that can help you do so, or if you’re old-fashioned like me, a good ole’ excel spreadsheet will work just fine. If you don’t have access to excel, Google has a free online version.
It’s helpful, to begin with seeing what you’re spending right now. Take a look at your bank statement and total up all of those “little” charges. When I first did this, I was shocked to find out that I had spent over $100 over the course of one month on coffee alone, and almost passed out when I saw that I sent through Cash App and Zelle $700 to my coworkers for breakfast and lunch over the course of three months. At the time, I couldn’t tell how much I was spending, $7 here, $10 there. When I had the chance to look at the total, I realized that this definitely was an area that I needed to cut back.
Setting Realistic Goals
After I identified the areas where I need to cut my spending, I was able to set realistic goals to save my money. Before the beginning of the new year, I used an expense tracker spreadsheet to enter all of my upcoming expenses as well as my income. By doing this, I was able to allocate some of my income, what was previously used on take-out, to my savings account. A lot of banks allow you to schedule transfers to other accounts, so with the help of my expense tracker, I was able to schedule a reasonable amount to put into my savings.
Tracking your expenses also allows you to budget the rest of your money wisely, which ties into my theme of setting realistic saving goals. Not only does my expense tracker include all of my bills, but it also includes money for recreation (mostly coffee). I could swear up and down all day that beginning in the new year I’m not eating out, picking up coffee, or making impulse buys; but I’ve set these unrealistic goals before, only to find myself cracking under the pressure I put on myself.
Stay in Control
By setting reasonable goals that I knew I could stick to, and putting aside a modest amount of cash for those mornings that I just NEED a large latte, it’s easier to stay in control of my spending as well as ensured that money would be transferred into my family’s savings account on a regular basis.
It’s one thing for you to check your account to see how much money you have, but it’s also important to pay attention to the money you spend. Being prepared and anticipating upcoming expenses as well as having savings can also lower the amount of stress that comes with financial hardship. Although it’s impossible to predict when emergencies happen, it’s best to be prepared.
The Learning Process Continues
I wish I knew all of what I’m learning now years ago. It’s definitely a process that requires changing personal habits and coming face to face with what I need to improve on. Visualizing achieving my goals is helping with motivation and the drive that every parent has to provide the best life possible for their child is a motivating factor as well.
What lies ahead is unknown, and I’ll be honest, this takes a lot of commitment and discipline. Nonetheless, changing my habits and taking real control over my finances has given me the confidence to keep going and to work hard.
Feel free to share any tips you have on how to save money!