Creating a personal budget is close to impossible if you don’t know how much you’re actually spending.
When you don’t regularly track your expenses, it’s difficult to allocate your income. At best, you’ll just guesstimate your budget and hope your cash lasts until the next payday.
Then when you simply do tracking in your head, you’ll eventually get lost and forget the details of your spending, and you start to live according to the amount of cash you have in your wallet and ATM.
You peek and see a couple of P1,000 bills in your wallet and you go, “I’m going to eat out and watch a movie this weekend.”
A few days after, upon checking your ATM and see that your account is now below the maintaining balance, you suddenly become thrifty and do a “staycation” at home during the weekend.
After the next payday, the cycle begins again. Aren’t you tired of living this way?
I DID – and that’s why I’ve made it a habit to track my expenses.
Now, I write down my expenses and not just try to remember them in my head. And I also have a spreadsheet where I record everything, including even the tips I give to parking attendants.
Why? Because doing so has helped me…
Avoid “Petsa de Peligro” days
I learned about this phrase from a friend only last week. Apparently, it’s a popular term among Pinoy young urban professionals for almost a couple of years now.
You know those days when you’re running low on cash and just anxiously waiting for the next payday? That’s what it means.
Pinpoint mindless purchases
Whenever I pass by McDonald’s, I would normally get a caramel sundae “just because”. But when I saw that this habit costs me at least P300 every month, I became more conscious and would tell myself not to buy one on impulse.
Now, I only buy a caramel sundae when I’m really, really craving for it. And when I do, each spoonful somehow became more special and the experience is now more enjoyable than before.
Discover unnecessary expenses
I bought a bed sheet because I believed I needed a new one, but after careful thought, I realized I got it because I simply wanted to change the mood of my room. If I just borrowed curtains from my parents and changed the one I had, I would have achieved the same effect.
By tracking my expenses, I am able to understand my personal motivation for each purchase, which then helps me to make better buying decisions and avoid unnecessary expenses.
Become more systematic
I used to carry a small notebook to jot down my expenses, now I use my smartphone. At the end of the day, I input everything on a spreadsheet, which has all these table comparisons and graphs that I created through the years.
It can sometimes be tedious and it requires you to be meticulous. But it has helped me become more systematic and better organized with my finances – something which later on proved to be important skills when running a business.
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Photo credit: amsterdamprinting
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