Start with Planning

Record Your Expenses

Now that you know how much you've accumulated, take a look at how you spend your money from day to day.

Most people do not have a good grasp of how much they spend. Items like rent or mortgage payments are easy to track. Other things, like electricity, fluctuate from month to month. And cash often falls into a deep dark hole known as "miscellaneous." Financial planners report that their typical client doesn't know where 5 to 15% of disposable income (take-home pay) is spent.

Think about that: 5 to 15% could mean the difference between falling into debt and meeting your financial goals.

See the "Expense Record" worksheet. You'll notice that there is a fourth column in addition to item, date, and amount, where you should put the reason for the expenditure. You might simply put "want" or "need." Or you could get much more detailed. Spending has an emotional context for many people, and it is important to recognize this.

A few points on how to fill in the Worksheet:

  • If you withdraw $100 out of the cash machine, don't put that in. Put what you spend it on.
  • Enter items when you put them on the charge card, not when the charge comes in.
  • Put a star or asterisk beside items that do not occur regularly. Car or home repairs fall into this category.
This worksheet will help you keep track of your expenses over the next few months.
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