How well do you track your spending habits?

I ask that question because a number of people have absolutely no idea how or where they spend their money. This ends up with folks looking at their bank statements wondering where their money went, and sometimes leads them to either overdraw on their bank accounts or go over the limit on their credit cards.

I go into each week with a general spending budget and what I call the “play” spending budget. I try to stick to it in some fashion whether I have a lot of money to play with or less money to play with during the week. As an independent consultant, my income fluctuates. My play money budget covers my wife as well when we go places on the weekends, as I usually pay for things most of the time.

I don’t always write my figures down, but luckily I can mentally keep track of everything I spend. I do keep track of the bills I pay, which is what helps me keep track of my overall spending. Bills always come first for me; I know some financial experts will say to pay yourself that 10% first, but we don’t always have 10% to spend on ourselves first, do we?

Luckily, I’ve worked hard to eliminate a lot of big bills from our life, so what we mainly have to keep track of are those monthly bills you can’t get away from, and those weekly bills such as gas and food. We’re lucky not to have kids, because it allows us to do things with our food budget that wouldn’t work well with kids.

People hate the word “budget”, but I believe it’s essential to giving us peace of mind, and of course to not have to pay these banks and lenders anything extra because we’ve not kept track or just how much money we have. Do you have any secrets you’d like to share in how you keep track of your money?

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