You should track all your spending each month to determine where your money is going.
This is the best way to save money. Look at each expense and determine whether it was worth it.
You can do this in a spiral notebook if you want. Or you can use Excel and the handy tracker here. Either way the goal is to record every bill and every item you buy or pay for. Then compare that to how much money you made in that month. Are you living in your means? If not fix that and spend less next month. Question each expense.
Did you buy things you don’t need? Return it for cash! Sell it! See my making lemonade from lemons post.
You probably have these main categories of expenses. Try to categorize them.
- Car payment
- Eating out/drinks
- Health and beauty
- Student loan payment
- Credit card loan payments
- Child care and baby supplies
There is also software that will do this for you but for now we can do it manually. Quicken is one such program ($35-$50). Chase down those receipts and credit card statements. Then ongoing do this every month to understand where your money really goes. Once you have a budget you can compare forecast and actuals.
Here is a sample expense tracker from Excel. I would like to have it be downloadable for people to fill out but this site doesn’t seem to let me embed a .xlsx file. Bummer. So try to replicate it if you know Excel. If not do so on paper.
I want you to go through the process and question the expenses at the end of the month. You may find you wasted money or had enough leftover to begin investing.