Most of us are guilty of not tracking our cash flow, which in fact is one of the most important component in our financial health. Some of us track our expenses on varying degree; ranging from simple spreadsheets to complicated spreadsheets with dashboard, and some even pay a monthly subscription for an online budget and expense tracker with auto bank reconciliation. Any method of tracking is fine and there is no best way to do it. At the end of the day, the best way is the one that you will continue to do it in the long run.
Is tracking really necessary?
In the past, I tend to spill over my budget and think that it is alright. For example, since I am not travelling due to COVID-19, I would probably spend more on online shopping or food. That will eventually defeat the purpose of what budgeting is meant to do. Say we plan to travel 2 times a year and has a budget of $2,000 for each trip, if we cancel both trips, we could have saved $4,000 instead of spending that money on other things that we had no intention of spending in the first place.
A friend once said this which I find very relevant and applicable;
Money saved is meant to be saved. It would not have been called “saved” if we eventually spend the money elsewhere.
What is the best way for you?
If you are reading this and currently you do not have a way of tracking your finances, chances are, you belong to the same category as most of us, including me – someone who needs a simple and quick way to track our expenses. Once we are comfortable with this method, we may progress further to more complicated and detailed tracking. But for now, let’s just try to START doing it instead of planning to do it.
There are tons of mobile apps out there that can do the job. But for me, the easiest to use by far is an app called Money Manager (iOS | Android). Whenever there is a monetary transaction, I made sure to key it into the app. Even if it is just a cup of kopi or a packet of tissue. This is to make sure tracking of expenses becomes a habit and not a “by the way” matter. In accounting terms, I want to make sure I can reconcile my balance sheet.
Month to month, I will be able to see where I tend to overspend and be able to improve on it. Getting our budget right will eventually help us manage our finances better, save up for rainy days and observe discipline.
Here’s how you can take advantage of this mobile app to improve your budgeting and tracking:
Step 1 – Configure (1) Your Expense Category; (2) Your Income Category; and (3) Your Accounts.
Step 2 – On the Money Manager App, key in all fixed recurring payment (Giro / Credit Card) instructions “e.g. Utility, Insurance Premiums, Monthly Instalments, etc”. Don’t worry if you cannot remember all at once. Along the way when you check your bank or credit card statement, you can key them in.
Step 3 – Use the Money Manager app daily to key in all your expenses and income.
Step 4 – Optional. Export out the figures to Excel or Google Drive and merge them with your own tracking spreadsheet.
They even have beautiful graphs to show where did your money go! Now you’ll have your monthly expenses tracked. I urge you to follow through and not give up. Once you go through the 1st month and get to see the overview of where your money goes to, you will be motivated to go on. Go on and take charge of your finances.
Disclaimer: Information written is to my best knowledge as per the date posted and has no legal rights. It represents my personal opinion, which may be different from yours, and that’s totally cool. It is important to read the policy contract and documents for the full terms and conditions. This post does not constitute a recommendation. Please seek professional advice before committing to a plan as it is a long term commitment.