Originally Posted by David1961
I know there are posters here who track all their expenses very closely. Iím wondering how you do this? The expenses from credit cards or checks are no problem, but what about cash purchases? Do you keep a notebook with you at all times and record every time you get something from a vending machine or get a $5 sub at Subway? Do you have a spreadsheet that you fill in each day? Do you write down credit card purchases when you make the purchase or write them down when the statement comes?
Currently, I count ATM withdrawals as expenses and when I need more cash, I make another withdrawal, but this is not real accurate Ė I may withdraw the money in September but not spend it until October. Itís close enough, but I want to start tracking closer. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
We have always tracked (running total) of monthly expenses manually in an 8 1/2 X 11" spiral notebook like you would a checkbook (39 years and counting). We keep "all" receipts (you never know), but only track/write down CC charges, ATM/cash withdrawals, and miscellaneous checks (birthday, graduation, etc). Store receipts in a manilla pocket folder, then filed with the page out of the spiral folder at the end of each month. Spiral sheet is used to verify monthly CC billings. Shred the receipts @ 6 months (except those that have a warranty period). This forces us to watch our expenditures and stick to our monthly budget. Tracking cash withdrawals rather than cash expenditures keeps tracking issues to a minimum.
The actual budget we strive for each month is estimated yearly. Some months are budgeted higher for various reasons - three carry travel budgets, and three carry Christmas budgets (wife shops for Christmas starting in October). Some months we go over and some we go under, but overall we usually end the year coming in under the yearly budget. Say what you will, but tracking works.......
These budgeted/actual monthly expenses are tracked in an EXCEL spreadsheet and the yearly total is also shown as a single line expense item with the rest of our yearly expenses. These are the only yearly expenses that our within our direct control. All the others are pretty much outside of our control (utilities, insurances, etc.).