You know that it's a good idea to keep tracking of where your hard-earned cash is going. But do you do it?
I'm of the belief that the more we know, the easier it is to get what we want, and that goes for money, too. So here are my top tips for using your free spending tracker to grow your business.
Knowledge is power.
Record everything you buy for a week
Sounds easy, right?
It is, but I'm not going to pretend it's a sunny evening in a beer garden.
Add everything you spend to your tracker, including your credit card and business bank account (you might want to create a copy and have a separate tracker for your business bank account, but if you use your personal account for business too, keep it in the same spreadsheet).
Some online banks will have the option to download your transactions as a spreadsheet, which will make the process a bit quicker.
Analyse and get wise
If you go to the "info" tab on your tracker, you'll see a pie chart which shows how much you spend in each category. Most people find that food is their biggest expense.
But look at your actual transactions, too - are there any patterns there? Is there anything that shocked you, or that you feel guilty or disappointed about buying?
- Do you go to the supermarket every day?
- Are there a few purchases you don't remember making?
- Is a big chunk of your money going towards one specific category other than food or bills?
- Are you spending a lot your money on other people (e.g. buying them drinks or dinner)?
- Do you transfer money from your savings account into your current account?
- Are there any purchases that make you feel guilty, uncomfortable or negative when you see them written down?
- Are you mixing business and personal expenses?
- What was the total amount that you spent - was it more or less than you thought?
Decide what you want
What are your goals for the future? Do you:
- want to cut back on unnecessary expenses?
- want to save up for a business investment?
- want to save an emergency fund or a cushion so you can take your business full time?
- need to pay your tax bill?
Whatever it is, write it down and work out what you need to do, money-wise, to get there (here are some tips for setting goals).
Now all you have to do is follow up and stick to your goal.
You don't necessarily have to give anything up, but you might need to get a bit more organised or make more of an effort - if you frequently find yourself wandering the supermarket for tonight's dinner, you might want to start planning your meals for the week and doing a single shop once a week as this usually works out much cheaper. Or if you automatically offer to pay when you see friends, resist the urge.
If you're struggling to sacrifice your short-term desires for your long-term goals, remember why you decided to do this in the first place. Write it down and put it somewhere you'll see it a lot, if that helps. I often write my goals down on Post-It notes and stick them on my desk and inside cupboards to remind myself of what I'm working towards.
What are your financial goals? Will you be using this method to reach them?
I'm a financial coach helping female business owners to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to manage their finances successfully and have a positive relationship with money. If you're ready to take control of your finances, click below to find out how I can help you.
I also create amazing resources to help you with your business finances.