Monthly Expense Tracker
When we were newly weds, I created this spreadsheet to keep our finances in check. It really helped to think through the different areas that we spend money. And when money was tight, it was easy to pinpoint where to save a little extra and to helped find the items we could go without (ahem...Redbox movies, Costco ice cream dates). I kept (and still keep) an mini expandable file in my purse and organize my receipts (and coupons!). Then at the end of the month, I'd log each receipt (or credit card transaction) into the spreadsheet. Any income went in the blue column and totaled at the bottom. The final orange box at the bottom was our discretionary income, the income leftover after all expenses are paid. From that we figured out how much we could set aside every month for our emergency fund or something else we were saving up for.
Here's the details:
After putting all your receipts into the categories, they'll auto sum at the bottom. You can add more cells if needed, double click and click on "insert row".
Any money you make or salary/income goes in the blue section. Just list the totals in the column.
Essentials = shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, kitchen supplies, Kleenex, etc. All the random extras.
The expenses (green box totals) and the income (blue box totals) subtract and the orange box is your discretionary income.
After doing it a couple months, you'll figure out what you (on average) spend on each category and will then be able to make better goals. For example, ten years ago when it was just Anthony and I, we spent around $200 per month on groceries. So, I'd make it my goal to spend $40 per week at the grocery store. Then I'd have a little extra "just in case" or I tried to save the extra to put towards something else. It helped us to not go over budget!
After a couple years of doing this, I realized I didn't need it anymore - it was all in my head (approximations). Even today I stay cognitive of how much we spend on groceries, eating out, etc. and cross check it with our income to make sure we're saving each month according to our family's financial plan.