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Budget. Tracking your monthly budget

Do you always find yourself short on money?  Want to learn how to track and save money more often?  If you want to have more money in your budget, sometimes the key lies in understanding exactly what you are spending your money on.  One thing that you must do is follow this plan for at least one full month, from beginning to end, for the long term higher success completing this plan every six months or so is going to help you keep your spending in check and help put more money in your pocket or at least in the savings account every month.

Using an excel spreadsheet or a piece of lined paper and make the following headings on your paper:

Date   Income   Amount   Bonus   Type of Income

Note your pay date, the income amount (how much you get when you cash your check), any bonus, tips extra money that you got (like for a birthday, promotion, rebate, etc) and then just list the type of income that you received (paycheck, unemployment, etc).

Tracking your income over two or three months, you will see what changes in your income, where you receive the most money and when you can expect more money. Even if you are working full time, sometimes your paycheck can differ according to benefits or bonuses, and other income will need tracked so you can make the most of what you have to start with before you start working on cutting expenses.

On another sheet of paper you can write or you can type:

Date   Amount Paid   Description  Is this  House Bill

After you write this down, you are going to need to carry this paper with you everywhere you go and write down every penny that you spend. You will find that when you have to write down that you bought two candy bars, or when you bought the paper every day or when you had to buy dinner out � you are going to think twice, sometimes more, about what you are spending and if you need it.

If there are two in the house, both of you should do this, so you can both see where you can cut back. Sometimes purchasing something is going to seem a �need� but it is more of a �want�. When you can cut back on the wants, you are going to have extra money.

Tracking your money is going to open you and your spouse up for fights because one might not realize that the other is actually spending money on something, like a coffee every morning. Or one might not realize that the gym cost that much, but you both are going to have to agree that you are going to work together to cut corners and put more into your own pockets every month. 

So, after doing this for just one week you most likely are going to find ten, twenty or fifty dollars � sometimes even more that you can put into the savings or use to pay another bill. Every penny adds up!  Maybe it will take more than one week to make your habits stick, to write down everything that you buy but you have to do this in order to really see where your money is going.

Here are a few easy examples of how you can cut back and save � compare these examples to some of your own expenditures and you will see HOW YOU CAN CHANGE and SAVE money!

Purchasing the newspaper everyday from the local vendor � this is actually wasteful. You can save money, lots of it, if you have the paper delivered to your home. Subscription rates will save you at least 10 � 15% if not more on your daily purchase plus you don�t have to give anything up!

Purchasing a coffee, latt�, or a cappuccino at the store on your way to work or school every day is expensive, maybe just a dollar a day? But if you buy the coffee or mix and make it at home, taking your drink with you when you leave the house it is only going to cost you pennies a day! A can of coffee costs anywhere from $3.99 to $7.99 and this will last you all month, and plus some � now that�s a big savings! Even investing in purchasing a coffee maker, or cappuccino maker, you are going to see the savings in your budget over the month, giving you more money for something else!

If you find that you are spending too much in gas getting too and from work, car pool, have your car tuned up, use a different grade of gas, make sure your tires have enough air, and so on. Even giving a ride to someone every day that doesn�t have a car and having them pay you a dollar a day for a ride � it is all going to cut your own costs.

Look at your phone bill, are you paying too many fees for options you don�t use? Cut out the long distance if you have a cell phone, you will save on fees.  Cut out the voice mail and use your answering machine! Savings can be found in many places, and every dollar will add up.

Just think, if you were able to cut back enough, saving just $40 per week (which is fairly easy) you could be going on vacation this summer and having a great time all without having to work too hard to save up that money!

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