I started tracking my finances when I got back from Spain last August. I had a credit card bill to pay off and student loans to tackle. So I set about writing down everything I spent money on and breaking it into categories. Plus it’s helpful to see exactly where my money went each month.
By breaking my spending down into categories, I can see just how much money I need for essentials and how much I spend on extras. Like books.
I consider my essential categories beauty, food, gas, gifts, and health. While things like books, clothes, fun, and home are extras. You can see that I qualified what each category means. So while food is essential, dining out is not so that’s considered fun money. I’m also fine with having beauty as an essential category because I’m not one to spend frivolously on beauty products. My beauty routine is completely zero waste! You can see my beauty section here where I post about my eco beauty routine and recipes. The cost of running this blog actually falls under the home category because I consider it office supplies. And who knows, maybe I’ll make money off this blog someday.
So I first created a fun title page for my finance tracking with my categories and my monthly spending totals. On the following pages I’ll track each month. Then I can review my spending for the year once everything is filled out. Even now, I spent a lot of money on health in January and February so hopefully that’ll go down for the rest of the months to come.
So, how do I track my spending? I came up with a chart that works for me. Since I started tracking my spending last August, this is the final layout. I write date, purchase/place, type (aka the category), check whether it’s cash ($) or card (C), and then the cost.
Here’s my spending for March so far.
I have all the months of the year drawn up already. All of my finance pages are in the last 15 pages of my bullet journal.
I’m not sure I’ll share my spending totals to be honest. I’m not really a finance blogger or anything like that. But maybe I’ll write a reflection at the end of the year with my thoughts. What the benefits are of tracking your finances and what I learned by this process. I can already see myself spending smarter because of it.
I was really inspired to spend less by the book The Year of Less; it was powerful for me. The author didn’t buy anything for an entire year! Cait Flanders was a financial blogger and now lives a very minimalist, consume less life. Her book is definitely more memoir then self-help book if you are interested.
You don’t realize how much money you really are spending and where it’s going until you’re forced to write it down and be held accountable. Of course, it’s still a work in progress. But I hope I can buy less and not buy impulsively.
In my effort to be mindful, I’ve also made a wishlist page on the last page of my journal. There are some things I need (like black jeans) and some big ticket items that I need to save up for. The first is a new laptop. Mine laptop is six years old and runs abhorrently slow but it works! I just hope I can save enough for it before my craptop crashes and I won’t be left in the lurch.
I want these to be wise purchases. To be investments in my future and not just bought spur of the moment. I’ll try not to deviate from this wishlist!
Hopefully by next year I’ll have a better sense of my finances. Then I can create a realistic budget and start saving and traveling again.
Do you track your spending? What new ways have you used your bullet journal? I’d love to hear your experience below.