In part 2 of my series of posts on managing finances, I mentioned that I would be discussing more about how I tracked my expenses and the tools I used to do these. For now, I’ll just focus on how I track my expenses. This is not rocket science. I only need to record exactly where my money is going, particularly my cash on hand. Based on experience, this is where my money gets “lost”.
How many times have you wondered where your money went when it was still more than a week to go before payday?! Have you ever tried but failed to remember exactly where you spent your money? Get my point?!
Other expenses that are paid through a credit card, online banking, and through checks are easier to track because these transactions are automatically recorded and these are all written on the statement that arrives every month. However, I still do my best to record all of these daily simply because I want to make sure that the monthly statements I get are accurate.
My first tool – a pocket notebook
Believe it or not, I started tracking my expenses with a small notebook which I had in my pocket wherever I went. No, it was not a small laptop but a real notebook where I wrote down my expenses everyday. I then transferred the data to an excel sheet later in the day. I used to do this everyday but things went out of hand, literally, when I misplaced the small notebook. You can imagine the anguish I felt when I lost my notebook and I still have not transferred a couple of weeks’ worth of data to excel. This is the reason why I gave up using a small notebook to track my expenses.
Pocket Excel to the rescue
After I misplaced my pocket notebook, I decided to enter data directly to an excel sheet instead. Based on the the first entry on the excel sheet that I created for this purpose, I started doing this last August 22, 2007 and I have been doing this up to present day. You would think that this was very tedious because this meant that I had to be in front a computer everyday to do this right? Wrong! I didn’t have to. It just so happened that my sister had lent me her O2 XDA IIs when I accidentally crushed my Nokia 6280 in a moment of stupidity when I sat on it. Lo and behold, I now had a phone that had pocket excel. I copied the excel file from my desktop to my PDA. I have attached a printscreen of the excel sheet below. Ayos ba?! (Isn’t it nice?!)
Since I carry my PDA phone anywhere with me, I can input my expenses whenever I get the chance to do so. I can record money that goes into my pocket (the credits) and out of my pocket (the debits). As you can see on the printscreen above, the excel sheet I created simply includes the date, payee or payor, credit, and debit, and remarks (not visible on the printscreen).
Sometimes I would have to enter rough estimates of expenses if I forgot the exact amounts. I can later double check the amounts from all the receipts that I keep. By the way, I do throw away all those receipts once I transfer the data from pocket excel into MS Money. I see no point in keeping receipts, unless of course I would need them either for reimbursement purposes at the office, or for warranty. I’ll discuss more about MS Money in future posts about managing finances. By the way, I’m quite sure most new phones nowadays would have something similar to pocket excel and some like the iPhone would even have iPhone apps very similar to MS Money.
Why bother to track expenses?
It is quite obvious that it takes a lot of effort for me to track my expenses (though nowadays it takes just about 10 minutes a day). Why do I bother doing something which some would consider to be tedious and time-consuming? I do it simply because I want to show to the Universe that I am really managing my money and I intend to “win the money game” – a term I often hear when I listen to T Harv Eker.
I don’t track my expenses just to know where my money is going, I do it to ensure that the right percentages go to my “money jars” as discussed in my previous post. Before I even decided to track my expenses, I had already decided how much of my money was to go to my FFA, LTSS, Play, Tithe, Education, and Expenses accounts. Without this, tracking my expenses would be nothing but a waste of time. I also believe in the saying that “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”. When I see myself approaching the maximum amount for Expenses for example, I can adjust accordingly by stopping myself from spending more. By tracking my expenses, I help ensure that I am managing my money in such a way that I will definitely win the money game, get out of the rat-race, and become financially free!
It’s your turn
Still think you have no money to invest in foreclosed real estate? If I haven’t made it clear enough, you are supposed to build your FFA account and use it to finance your first real estate deal. The following is a summary of the steps you need to take:
- Commit that you want to manage your finances and act based on your decision. If you don’t act, you’re just dreaming.
- Decide the percentages you are to put in your money jars. I forgot to mention that these are flexible. It really is up to you.
- Start tracking your expenses and manage your money. Do you think you’ve got what it takes to handle the first 30 days?!
- Build your FFA until it can already finance your first real estate deal!
This post got delayed because I was pressuring myself to come up with a final post on managing finances that contained everything I wanted to say about the subject with the thought that once part 3 was published, it’s over and done with. However, I realized that this would not be right. Managing one’s finances is so big so I really can’t just condense all of it in just 3 posts. This simply means that this is not the end of it and I will continue to write about managing one’s finances as I have barely scratched the surface. Topics that come to mind: How I got out of credit card debt, How to finance your first real estate deal, managing personal finances resources in the Philippines, etc…
Please share your thoughts on this as I also appreciate all of your inputs! Thanks!
To our financial freedom!
Real Estate Investor
Real Estate Broker License #: 20056
Social Network: http://foreclosurephilippines.ning.com
Text by Jay Castillo. Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved.
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