Financial Tracking and Budgeting Methods

Why is financial tracking so important? Well, if I don’t know where I am, how can I know where I am going? Tracking our finances is key to being able to tell our money where it needs to go versus it disappearing on us.

There are a multitude of ways to do so, but I would like to talk about the most common ways.

Paper and Pen

This is the traditional method. I keep a ledger of what I spend via paper or a form of my choosing. I then enter each category’s talley into that month’s actual budget. By doing this on a daily basis, I am able to see how much I have spent of my allotted amount and make sure that I don’t go over that total. I personally like the 30 Day Diary form and Monthly Income and Expense form available from Crown’s library. That along with the Income Allocation form which helps you decide which paycheck is going to cover the mortgage or car payment is the way I learned to budget, and I still use a system very much based off that.

Spreadsheets

Financial Tracking and BudgetingThe use of Excel and similar products has become common place, and they are excellent budget tracking tools. I have taken the formatting of the 30 Day Diary, customized it to my family’s needs, and use it in Excel as my main method of budgeting. Over time I have added special categories like cats, chickens, and cows under miscellaneous as my family lives on a farm. That helps us to see what they are actually costing us each month. A budget and tracking system is not concrete…you can make it work for your family. The nice thing about Excel is that it does all the math for you using the built in formula system.

Mvelopes

This past year, I began using Mvelopes for my personal budget and fell in love with it. Since I started in mid-year and wanted to take my time to learn it, I have used both Mvelopes and my faithful Excel spreadsheet, but come next year, I will be going solely to Mvelopes. The nicest thing about their system is that I can tie it to my bank accounts and allow it to automatically import all my electronic transactions and even my checks once they are deducted from my checking. You can use their pre-entered categories, create your own, or even create categories and sub-categories. It is totally customizable as well and is accessible from anywhere which makes it extra nice. I can even set up my income allocation and use that preset distribution to fill my envelopes as well as set up pending deductions that haven’t yet hit my bank. Add to it that they have great tech support that is here in the US, and I’m a happy camper.

Microsoft Money

Many people like using Money to budget and track their expenses, but since I don’t actively use it, I’m neither for it or against it. It just deserved a mention. There are also many other options out there. Too many to name, but the key is to find what works for you and track it!

Note from Jason:  Microsoft decided to quit producing Money Plus over a year ago, but it is available for free download.  Keep in mind, they are giving the software away and no longeroffer support or online features.   You can read more about Microsoft Money Plus on the download page.

How do you track your spending?

About Jocelin Boutet

Jocelin Boutet is a homeschool graduate who grew up learning finances from a young age and now passionately has her own ministry – Standing in YHVH’s Hand Ministries – with a mission of training believers how to be stronger in their walk with the Messiah and free of the world in lifestyle, finances, and relationships. As well as being a Financial Coach and Trainer, previously serving with Crown Financial Ministries, and Certificate in Biblical Studies, her personal practical experience as well as involvement on a daily basis in Christian finances gives her a unique perspective. She has been blessed to speak regularly in person as well as on the radio on God’s View on Money.

Articles | StandinginYHVHsHand.org JocelinBoutet.com | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

  • glass_is_half

    I’ve actually been using a tool called Calendar Budget which is an online application. I’ve only been using it for a couple of months but so far I’ve been very impressed with it and the way it works. Seeing how your “scheduled” bills impact your available funds on a monthly basis while depressing is useful information for planning purposes.

  • http://stembridge.us David

    Any chance that you may have posted your modified “30 Day Diary” spreadsheet on-line? I have been trying to come up with something similar; and thought I’d try to find something online before creating something!
    Thanks for the article!

    • http://www.onemoneydesign.com Jason Price

      David, try this one from Crown Financial Ministries. I think it’s a good one to use, but you’ll have to create it in excel if you want to use it on your computer. http://www.crown.org/pamphlets/pdfs/30-DayDiary.pdf

      • http://stembridge.us David

        Thanks Jason, I have this, was hoping top find a converted spreadsheet… I needed to mod a few of the categories; but so far, lining it out and writing new item in seems ok, Thanks!

        • http://www.standinginyhvhshand.org Jocelin Boutet

          Hi David,

          I’m actually uploading it to my website tonight, so please check out http://www.standinginyhvhshand.org tomorrow. And you’ll find my version on there!

          • http://www.onemoneydesign.com Jason Price

            Thanks, Jocelin!

  • http://stembridge.us David

    will do Jocelin! Thank you!

  • http://www.standinginyhvhshand.org Jocelin Boutet
    • http://stembridge.us David

      Thanks again, are you referring to the 30-DayDiary that Crown has made available in pdf? I am hoping to find it in spreadsheet form! There are some great articles on your site btw, thank you!

  • http://www.standinginyhvhshand.org Jocelin Boutet

    Hi David,

    This version would be a bit different as Crown’s is of course copyrighted; however, I used to be over Crown’s coaching program…so I feel that I took what I learned there and made it even better. So try out the “Spending Diary” which is Excel and see what you think!

  • http://www.standinginyhvhshand.org Jocelin Boutet

    Oh, and glad to hear you liked my articles. Thank you so much!

  • http://stembridge.us David

    Thanks again for posting the spreadsheet Jocelin. I do kinda prefer being able to see a total at the bottom; but I know either was can get overloaded.

    Any recommendations for pinting a hard copy at the end of the month?

  • http://www.standinginyhvhshand.org Jocelin Boutet

    I keep a master file on the computer. Then I print my monthly summary using the Monthly Money Management File to give me monthly totals. Then at the end of the year, I have the details of the Spending Diary to do my taxes very easily! :)