I once read that among the habits of rich and successful people is keeping track of how they spend their money.
In the spirit of “Fake-it-till-you-make-it”, I thereby decided to take up the habit so that when I will finally be rich and successful, there won’t be so much catching up for me to do 🙂
However, beyond preparing me for that sweet day when I will be so rich and successful, keeping track of my money has helped me in many other ways.
For instance, I know what my indulgences are and can therefore discipline myself. Seeing where and how you spend most of your money will open your eyes to who you truly are.
Secondly, I can very clearly anticipate how much money I need to go through a month, and if I need to cut down on an expense it is easy for me to know which one it will be.
Thirdly, I know for how long things in my house last, having observed the patterns. I know when cooking gas should be over, I know how much electricity bill to expect, etc, etc .
Fourthly, keeping track of my spending keeps me from being selfish. At the end of the month I get a clear picture of how much money I have given (church, charities, friends etc), vis a vis how much I have spent on myself.
The benefits are innumerable, but let me give the fifth as the final one; I am a wife, and a stay-at-home-mum. All the money I spend has essentially been made by my husband, and seeing how hard he works it is only sensible of me to manage this money well.
One of the aspects of being a stay-home-mum which unnerves most women is having to ask for money every now and then, specifying that it is for this and that. How tiresome! Especially on days when there is trouble in paradise! Cultivating an accounting discipline makes things smoother financially, for both of you. There is increased mutual trust and the questions decrease!
If you are accounting for the money your husband spends as well, he will have to give you a breakdown of his expenditure on a daily basis. That might be tricky. Maybe consider having your husband keep his own records then you can combine with yours at the end of the month. Another way to do it, handle all the payments being done in your family such that your husband major expenses narrow down to his transport and lunches at work…those you can estimate. The rest will be gifts and dinner dates and such, leave those to him.
So, here goes. I will share with you, dear reader, how I do mine, I do it very simply with a tool that you easily get as long as you have a computer; Microsoft Excel. The formulas you set today will ensure that you do not have to keep doing additions and substractions on a daily basis, just make the entries and let excel calculate for you!
This is a section of my accounts from early this month.
- Open excel, you see the many columns and rows. Start from column A for your income entries. B will be used for dates, C for the details on expenditure, D for the costs and E for the balance. No Entries will ever be made in Column E, it will always show on the first row of the column the automatic balance resulting from INCOME(A) minus EXPENDITURE(D).
- Below INCOME, indicate your first amount. That is the money you have on you right now. Treat is as your balance brought forward. If you do not spend anything on a particular date, as in my 1st November, your second row will still contain another income (maybe an ATM withdrawal, an income from your side-hustle or money from your husband/whoever).
- Indicate the ways in which you spend this money in column C, with the price following alongside, in column D. Column D is where the formula starts;
- When you have written your first expense in Column D, the rows below it are obviously all blank. Count 10 rows down and click in the 10th box in that column D. Type =SUM(D1:D10) and press ENTER. See what happens? Anything you ever type in the rows in that column(D) will always automatically be added up as your expenditure. Insert more rows (you definitely need more than ten) by right-clicking in one of the blank rows and selecting “insert rows”. The formula will never be interfered with as long as you insert the extra rows befor the original ten are over.
- The next calculation is your BALANCE, column E. Here will be the total sum of all your incomes minus the expenditure total you have got in the formula in step 1 above. Your incomes will be A1/A2/A3/A4/A5…You get the drift? “A” followed by the number of the row where your income has been entered.Click in the box below BALANCE and type =SUM(A3+A4-D22) <<<this is as per my excel sheet above, your A will be followed by your own row number.
- With successive income entries in column A, you will simply be clicking on the BALANCE figure and type +A(number) right after the previous A(number) , as in the way I added +A15 after my +A4 . The number that comes after D will always be changing as you insert more rows for your expenditures but worry not, excel is bright and will automate the change and work out the balance accordingly.
This is a clearer (I hope) version of my excel sheet above. Observe it keenly if you are new to excel and you will see the A(numbers) and the formula I am talking above. Do not lose heart if you do not immediately get it, but get on your computer and attempt. I also have had to teach myself these things. If you need further help, contact me.
If you keep up with this habit for the whole month, your work at the end of the month will be to simply tally your expenditures and put them in categories with headings and subheadings of your choice, and there you will know how and where your money was spent during the past 30 days. I will share with you my end-month form sample…you can easily make yours on excel and give the headings and subheadings that suit your situation. If your income is just one lumpsome per month, you do not need the many rows for income. But remember to specify your incomes…which one was your salary? Which is from your side hustle? Which was in form of a gift?
Be very specific with accounting for your money. You will thank me later.