If your finances have taken a bit of a battering over recent months, you’re certainly not alone. Belt tightening has almost become a national pastime. One we hope won’t go on for too much longer.
On the positive side, it’s first class motivation for finally sitting down and sorting out your money: where’s it coming from, where’s it going, and how you can keep hold of it a bit longer.
No Complicated Tech Needed
It doesn’t come much simpler than a pen and notebook. Armed with a recent bank statement (one for each of your accounts if you have more than one bank account) you can start right now getting to grips with spending and saving. Unless you’re a whizz at mental arithmetic, a calculator might come in handy too.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you firing up the computer and opening a spreadsheet if that’s how you like getting things done. But, if you use a small notebook you can carry it around with you and jot down purchases as you make them.
Whichever method you choose, you’ll need five columns with these headers for the information they’ll contain:
- Date: The date the transaction took place. It might be a cash or debit card purchase or a direct debit or standing order. If you run a credit card, make a separate sheet for this, then note down the repayments to that card on this main sheet that’s tallying your main bank account.
- Item: What you bought, be it grocery shopping or coffee and cake with friends.
- Income: Record where income came from. Salary, for example.
- Cost: How much was it?
- Balance: At the very top of this column, write your current bank balance from your up-to-date bank statement. Now each time you make a purchase, subtract the amount from the current balance and write the new balance in the column. When you’re recording income, add it to the balance.
You can have a new page every week or create a fresh page at the start of every month. Write your bank balance from the previous month or week at the top of your balance column to get started. Don’t forget to add direct debits or it’s easy to think your running balance is bigger than it is.