The little expenses don’t seem so little when at the end of the month your bank account is lower than you thought. This has happened to me before and it’s not a great feeling. A few trips to the coffee shop, a pair of cute shoes that I had to have and a little pick me up treat all add up in the end and can drain your account before you even realize it.
In my high school economics class we had a month long assignment to document all of our expenses no matter how small. At first I thought the assignment was just busy work, but at the end of the month I realized that weekly senior lunches and “little” trips to the mall were taking their toll on my wallet. I realized that I needed to change my spending and saving habits before things got too out of hand. So I decided to continue keeping track of my expenses with a budget sheet even after the assignment was over. This simple change started making a big difference, especially when I moved to college and had to start grocery shopping on my own. It helped me to look over what I was spending my money on and decide what needed to be deemed as necessary and what I could pass up on. In addition, budgeting my money and putting everything into categories of “necessary” and “unnecessary” left some extra money at the end of the month to put into my savings account.
Another helpful tip is to try monitoring your bank accounts online. Not only can you see exactly where your money is going, but most banks have charts or graphs that show the different categories of your spending, such as leisure, or restaurants and so on. This way you can see where money is being spent and maybe reevaluate your situation.
Keep in mind that having a budget doesn’t mean you can never go out and treat yourself again. Instead of going to the coffee shop or mall on a weekly basis, I wait until the end of the month to see if I have met my savings goal. If I have, then I’ll treat myself to something and I don’t have to worry about feeling guilty because I know I’ve saved and spent responsibly to get to that point. In addition, if your finances do get out of control there is assistance available, so don’t give up and feel like you’re drowning. You can always visit https://www.debthelper.com/ for help.
To get you started here are some links to websites with easy to read, printable budget sheets.