The First of the Month
Today is July 1st! Every month on the first of the month I update my spreadsheets and track my net worth.
I try not to do that during the month. Though, of course, I am always checking in on our savings accounts and checkbook – making sure we’re not going too much over our budgets on things. All that good stuff.
But on the first of every month, I log-in to Personal Capital and I update all my spreadsheets. Yes, multiple.
Tracking My Net Worth
The first is just a basic month to month update of where we’re at. I track our savings accounts, retirement accounts, and any loans we have going on. Make sure the credit cards were paid off (if we used them that month) and all of that good stuff. This first spreadsheet is pretty informal and it’s my “at-a-glance” spreadsheet.
It also shows me my net worth month after month.
Reviewing My Budget Categories
The second spreadsheet is more intense. I port over all my spending and budget categories from Mint and track them all so I can get some more analysis on where and if we overspent on a specific area.
This spreadsheet is a work in progress.
It’s really easy to bombard ourselves with data. I try not to do that too much. Yes, it’s good to know that I spent $14 more on groceries this month than I budgeted for. But in the grand scheme of things, $14 is not the make or break.
What is the make or break is if I’m consistently spending more on groceries than I budged for, month after month.
Understanding that maybe my grocery budget isn’t realistic is what is important.
Is Your Budget Realistic?
If I think, for example, that I’m going to spend $400 on groceries a month and I find that I’m consistently spending $500 or more on groceries a month than I need to re-evaluate.
Am I eating out too much and not cooking the things I bought and then letting it go to waste? Am I under-estimating how much I spend every time I go to the store? Can I do better at meal-planning in order to avoid food waste?
You can use this type of self-analysis for every category in your budget. Do you spend more money shopping each month than you planned? Is it because you’re going to Target and loading up your cart? Or are you more like me and you use that one-click purchase button too much on Amazon?
Having this monthly check-in with myself in which I update my spreadsheets, making sure all my lines are trending upward, is super important!
For example, in June I spent a lot less money shopping than I usually do. However, we had a bunch of unexpected vet bills that pushed my “everything else” category up a notch.
If I didn’t categorize things and re-view them each month I might not understand where my money disappeared to.
How often do you check in with your money? How often do you review your budget categories? Let me know in the comments!