Tag Archives: financial tracker

One Month of Less – April 2018

2 May

As you know, if you’ve read my post/review of The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, that I read the book and thought it was an amazing idea.  So how did I do during my first month of attempting to buy less?  Lets take a look.

One thing that really skewed my numbers this month (not that you have anything to compare it to) was that I got my tax refund back which I did enter in my Spending Tracker app as income.  I promptly transferred both refunds into my savings account, at least for now.  I seriously thought on how to handle my refund and figured I had at least two smart options.  One option would be to leave it in my account until the end of the month and divide it into my normal three categories (savings, investments, and extra house payment) for my “leftover” money.  The second option, which I chose, was to just throw it all into savings for now.  So, my savings percentage is crazy high for April…not that I’m complaining.  It definitely helped to replenish what I spent on my upcoming vacation and more so that was nice.

Ok, so here’s where I spent my money (in percentages):

  • Savings 53.36%
  • Mortgage 14.46%
  • Extra House Payment 7.55%
  • Investments 7.55%
  • Food 2.64%
  • Eating Out 2.42%
  • Crafts 1.84%
  • Yarn 1.35%
  • Water/Sewer/Garbage 1.31%
  • Dog/Vet 1.25%
  • Work 1.00%
  • Internet Service 0.74%
  • Car Insurance 0.71%
  • Knitting 0.61%
  • Natural Gas 0.59%
  • Gym 0.59%
  • Fuel 0.58%
  • Phone 0.58%
  • Electricity 0.43%
  • Home 0.12%
  • Contacts 0.10%
  • Medication 0.09%
  • Fitbit 0.07%
  • Coffee 0.06%

I’m super happy about the fact that I saved and/or invested a total of 68.46% of my “income” for April but I know that this number is not achievable for me every month.  Too bad I don’t get tax returns every month.  That would be amazing.

Ok, so you’ve heard the good, lets take a look at some of the less than good.  As you can see, I spent just about as much money eating out as I did on buying food to prepare at home.  I have been much better about eating and cooking at home than eating out this past month but I think I can do better.  

Another thing that I tend to struggle with is the amount of money I spend on my crafty hobbies.  I will say that being crafty is what helps me stay sane and I enjoy it so it’s never going to go away, but I did spend more than I normally would have on supplies in April.  Part of that is due to the fact that I started a new hobby/craft in April and that was learning how to spin fiber into yarn.  So, I obviously needed some supplies which included a drop spindle and some fiber for spinning.  I did go a bit overboard with fiber and am realizing I’m having a hard time taking a step back from buying all the pretty things after letting myself get a bit out of hand.  I really need to stop and spin what I have and decide if it’s something I want to keep doing before I go and buy a bunch, and see if I’m any good at it.  There’s not much sense in keeping spinning if I’m making something I can’t use to knit/crochet with.  In the back of my mind I’m already thinking about the fact that I want to buy a spinning wheel but that is a decision for another day.  They run easily $1,000 and that doesn’t include all of the accessories I would need.  Sounds like my tax refund will come in handy if that’s what I decide to do in the future.

Another thing I have not done at all is to get rid of belongings.  Is it bad that I think if I just don’t buy more I’ll be ok?  I know deep down that this isn’t right but I just don’t feel up to the task of going through all of my crap…yet.  It will happen I’m sure.  One thing I need to go through, like last week, is the kitchen cupboard that has all of my cookware in it.  I open the doors and pots and pans literally jump out at me and it drives me crazy.  

So my goals for May are to still save as much as possible and to rein in my spending on crafting because I have a lot of supplies already.

Have you started your journey to less?  What steps did you take in April to change the way you spend money?

In case you missed it here is a link to my review of The Year of Less and also my post about the Spending Tracker I use.

How I Track My Spending

16 Apr

Hello readers!  I’ve been wanting to type this up ever since I did my review on The Year of Less but I just haven’t taken the time to do it.

I personally started tracking every penny I spent in January of 2017.  Actually I started before that but I was entering everything into my home computer in Excel and I was lucky to get to it once a week, it was a pain in the butt and definitely didn’t show me a real-time picture of my finances.

Knowing that tracking my spending only once a week or so was not going to cut it for me I set out to find a good spending tracker app.  I read a lot of reviews and people were recommending the App Mint, because it does a lot of the work for you.  I’ve tried Mint years ago and didn’t have much luck.  My accounts were difficult to sync, and I don’t honestly love an app that will connect to all of my bank/credit accounts.  It’s too invasive.

I ended up downloading an app called Spending Tracker for iOS (yes I do use an iPhone) but it appears to also be available on Android devices as well.  The icon looks like a little brown wallet.

IMG_5171

There is both a free and a paid for version of this app.  I was happy to use the free version for the whole first year I used it and then finally upgraded in January to the paid version because I knew I was going to continue to use this app nearly every day (sometimes more than once day) for a long time to come.  The free version worked great for me, I just had to deal with an ad every so often.

What I love about this app is that it goes with me wherever I am because I always have my phone.  When I’m in the checkout line I enter my expense immediately and I get a real-time insight to my current monthly balance.  I do have auto-pays set up on some bills which means I do have to check my bank balances and enter those when I see them come in but this has been by far the easiest way I have ever kept track of my money.

Here’s an example of what you would see when you open the app with data entered in (no this is not my data).  You can click on the February link and change your options to “Weekly”, “Monthly”, and “Yearly” which is a great option.  Personally I have mine set up for monthly because I get paid monthly.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 5.01.43 AM

If you want to see the details of every transaction you’ve entered you click the “Transactions” button and it takes you to everything you’ve entered.  You can edit these entries if you need to.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 5.01.55 AM

And this is what it looks like to actually enter a transaction.  It literally takes seconds to do which is why it’s so easy to do it right when you’re in the check-out line at the store.  I especially like that you can enter your own personal notes which has been helpful when buying gifts so I can know which gift it was and who it was for.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 5.02.02 AM

At the end of every month I take my leftover balance and divide it three ways (because this works for me).  I take 1/3rd and place it into my savings, 1/3rd into investments, and 1/3rd towards an extra house payment.  The nice thing is that I made these as actual entries into the Spending app so I can see my percentages (turn your device sideways and it shows you percentages in either a pie graph or a bar graph) for the month.

This tool has been so valuable to me.  It has made me stop in my tracks when I’ve been ready to buy something because it is much more impactful to see the balance go down right before your eyes and to stop and think if this is really a purchase you want to make or not.

I suppose I should say that I am in no way endorsed by the company who has made this app, I just know I like using it and it works!  I hope this tool will help you to reach your financial goals too!