Where Does Your Money Go?

Do you know where your money goes? You may not have as much money as you want or wonder how you can get more. The best way to start is to figure out what you're spending your money on. You get paid on Friday and before next week rolls around, your check is already accounted for. Where did it go?

With women making $.77 to the dollar compared to what a man makes doing the exact same job, you don't have as much to spend on things as men do. That's almost 25% less that you're starting out with, so you need to make it all count.

Here's how to find out where your money goes. Create a no excuse budget. Having a budget work for you will show you how much you spend and where, and I guarantee, you'll be surprised at the results.

You can create a budget on paper or on the computer. Start at the top with today's month (and do this for every month). Vertically in the first column, write every bill you have. Begin with the necessities: rent/mortgage, utilities, food, loans, car payments, and insurance. Then move down to cell phone, internet, cable, gas, dining out, entertainment. You can make donations, birthdays, and holiday gifts entries. Make sure you have a miscellaneous entry too. In the misc. entry will be everything that doesn't fit above, for instance like dry cleaners, getting your car fixed, etc.

In the next column for each entry, put how much you usually spend each month on these. If they are variable (they don't have a set price each month--like electricity may be $200 one month and $300 the next) costs, then average the cost (take the total amount you spent last year on electricity, for example, divide it by 12. Then put that as the total allowed per month). Do this same thing for each expense.

You want to be extremely accurate in how much you spend each month. Don't estimate or guess. Find out what you spent last year and put that down for this year. If something went up, for instance your cable price went up $10 this year, then put that amount instead.
People are usually not accurate in the miscellaneous category. They just guess about how much it might be. This one thing will set your whole budget off track and not give you an accurate depiction of your money. Do it right, and you'll be able to have a lot more money.
In the third column, put down what you actually spend on that item this month.

For instance

Category Budget Amount Actual Amount

Rent $900 $900
Electricity $250 $200
Cable $75 $75
Entertainment $50 $75

So in this example your actual amount is the same as the budgeted amount. You are over in entertainment and under in electricity. You might think for the month, you are under $25 ($50 under in electricity minus 25 over in entertainment), but that's not accurate since you averaged out the Budgeted Amount of electricity. This month you may be under in electricity but next month you may be over, because you set an average amount in the Budgeted Amount.

At the bottom of your chart under all your expenses, put "Total." Keep a running tally of all the two amounts, Budgeted and Actual. Skip a line or leave a little space. Then set a group of four or five lines. Each time you get paid for this month, you are going to add it to this group. You'll also keep a running total for this group.

Underneath this, keep a running total of the profit/loss for the month with your Budgeted and Actual amounts. Budgeted - (all your checks added together)= Profit/Loss and Actual - (all your checks added together)=Profit/Loss.

This will tell you how much profit you are actually making compared to the profit you have budgeted to make. This is great when you're saving for something. You can see how long, based on your actual profit amount, it will take you to save your desired amount.

Category Budget Amount Actual Amount

Rent $900 $900
Electricity $250 $200
Cable $75 $75
Entertainment $50 $75
Total $1275 $1250

Checks (date of check) $700
(date of check) $800
Total checks for month $1500

Profit $1500-1275 $1500-1250
(total cks-budget amt) $225 $250 (total cks-actual)

The profit we budgeted is less than the actual amount. However, this month our actual for electric is less than what it will be in coming months. So what we didn't spend is not actually what we "saved," because there will be months where electric is $300, but we budgeted $250, because we took an average, which is another reason to be accurate in what you budget.

You need to look at your budget daily and keep meticulous notes. That way you'll know if you're about to go over budget in any area, and you can cut back before it's too late. Every time you buy something, drive through a fast food line, or stop for gas, get a receipt and document it. Those little $2 and $4 charges add up. You'll be surprised at how much you're spending and where you are spending it.

If you want to save money, don't stop at a fast food place on your way home. Just wait another 30 minutes until you get home. Don't go inside when you're getting gas, because then you don't spend money on grabbing something that's only a few bucks. Bring a snack when you go to a movie, so you aren't spending another $10 for popcorn and a soda pop.

All those things add up, and you end up spending hundreds of dollars on things you don't think about. That money could be set aside for a treating yourself to a massage or a much needed vacation instead of on fast food and junk food. So create a budget, take detailed notes writing down each time money goes out and money comes in, and then you'll be able to afford the things you want in life the most.

As a single mom and founder of The Single Mom Movement, Jessica Rector knows how single moms are overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed. With programs, workshops, and live events, she connects single moms to happiness, fulfillment, and empowerment by using her proven strategies. Clients praise Jessica for getting massive results after one session.

This article was published on 17 Jul 2014 and has been viewed 608 times
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