Monday, November 29, 2010


Do you budget or track your spending?

Another big change for us this year after closing the business has been living on a single fixed income. It had been almost 8 years that I was self-employed and owned a business - and your money management/budgeting is very different when your income is not consistent. In that regard, it is very nice to know exactly what you have coming in.

I've always been a big fan of spreadsheets and so that's what I've been using to keep track of when bills are due and when paychecks are coming in. A few weeks ago I decided to try out a free service online - It imports from our bank accounts automatically, so no data entry involved! I wanted to categorize what we spend and track things we also pay cash for as well so I could see where our money was going - and if it was actually going where I thought it was - and find how we could save more money and be conscious of our spending. It doesn't take much time to use and the information I've learned has been so helpful! You can set up budgets and saving goals as well. 

The other cool thing is that they use aggregate data to be able to tell you how your spending compares to the average of others in your state or major city. I don't know how reliable it is because it's counting on people categorizing things correctly and entering everything they spend, however it was interesting to learn that we spend more on food and cars than others in Michigan, but almost half as much in utilities (we use an antenna and have inexpensive cell phone plans) and less in general shopping. I do look forward to having at least one of the cars paid off - but that's about a year and a half away!

I've also found that holding myself accountable, knowing that I need to record everything, has helped me be more conscious of spending on little things - i.e. stopping for a coffee, or getting water instead of iced tea at a restaurant.

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