We’ve actually been receiving questions about how to correctly use the trackers in the Design Your Life Planners, so we decided to make a series of how-to’s for you!
This post will be talking about the Expense Trackers and the Cash Flow spread. Please take note that the numbers below are for illustrative purposes only. Everyone has different spending habits.
The Expense Tracker
- Create your categories. First you should think about how and where you’ve been spending your money on. From there, you can group them into categories like: Transportation, Food, Shopping/Personal Items, Grocery, Business, Wants, etc. It actually all depends on your lifestyle and spending habits. Bills (utilities, phone, etc) are a different story though, so reserve that for the Cash Flow spread. The Expense Tracker has 5 blank spaces for these categories, so choose wisely! 😉
- Itemize expenses. Once that’s settled in, you can now itemize your expenses. We would recommend you to update this on a day-to-day basis, or whenever you spend money. The amount that you spent should be placed under the corresponding category. This is designed this way so that it will be faster for you to see an overview of your spending per category. Also, it will be easier for you to total this later on (like in the picture below).
The Cash Flow Spread
At the end of each month, add up all the numbers per category and you’ll end up with 5 numbers. Take those numbers to the Cash Flow spread. This will be explained under Expenses.
The Cash Flow spread has 2 main sections: Income and Expense.
Income is pretty much self-explanatory. You can total it at the end of the month, but leave the “To Save” part blank first until you’ve computed all of your expenses.
Expense is where you put your recurring expenses– aka bills. You can organize the bills according to the due date, or however you like it.** As you receive the bills, place your balance on the month it is for (Tip: if the bill is not for a specific month, like Jan 10-Feb 9, I usually go for the month with the most days — so it’s under January). Check boxes are there to remind you and indicate if it’s been paid or not.
** Please take note that the Credit Card bills should be separate from the other bills (explanation below). No need for a line to be skipped though; they just need to be put together.
Take the categories you previously assigned on your monthly Expense Trackers and write them below the bills. The 5 numbers are then your totals for the month.
Now it’s time to get your total expense for the month. Add everything up EXCEPT your credit card bill/s. The reason is to prevent double-entry. Credit cards are a form of payment, so if you have already recorded that “Denim Jacket” (that you paid using card 1234) as an expense under “Shopping”, the amount would be doubled if you were to record the credit card bill expenses too. (I’m not overspending, am I??)
AND NOW IT’S TIME TO DO THE MATH: Income – Expense = Savings
Saving Goals are on the top bar. We recommend you to define your goals, both short-term and long-term.
- Short-term goals are to be penciled in and changed whenever you reach it. Have your eye on that designer bag? Or planning to go on a vacation abroad? Write it down and let it motivate you!
- Long-term goals are…well, long-term, more permanent, and definitely more challenging to reach (but you can do it, girl! *wink*). Want to buy a house and lot someday? Or save up for your (future) family / retirement plan? Or to finally own that dream car? Whether you’re saving to travel, buy something, invest, put up a business, or just save for a rainy day, DREAM BIG. Write it down and let it motivate you! The “Saving Up For” box is where you define either your short-term or long-term goal. It’s up to you.
At the end of the year, you can total everything and it should give you a better idea of your spending / saving habits. There will always be room for improvement in the next year, plus you’re one step closer to your long-term goal (hopefully!). Let us know how you did!