Staying on top of finances can seem impossible at times. It can feel like you are constantly in the negative without end in site. One way to help you feel like you have more control over your finances is by creating a finance journal.
What is a finance journal?
A finance journal is simply a notebook that you record your expenses, income, and financial goals in. I recommend having it be a monthly finance journal but you can easily make it weekly or bimonthly if that works better for you.
How should you set up your journal?
Each month should have 4 pages:
1. Income: All sources of income (paychecks, gifts, taxes)
2. Bills: Monthly/Reoccurring payments (car payment, rent, cable)
3. Expenses: Other expenses besides bills (groceries, gas, clothing)
4. Monthly Rundown: Work on this page at the end of the month. Subtract your bills/expenses from your income to see if you’re in the positive or negative. Write down any goals you accomplished this month (I.e. paid $100 extra towards a loan) and what you would like to accomplish next month.
How often should you journal?
Working on your journal at least twice a month is the most ideal. Try to aim for a middle of the month and end of month check in. The purpose for the middle of the month check in is to see if there is anything you should consider changing for the rest of the month (I.e. if you’ve been shopping too much, if you have extra money to put towards debt, etc.). At the end of the month reflect on the past month, what you’ve accomplished financially and what financial goals still need work. At the end of the month also decide what your goals for the coming month should be.
Where can you get your financial information?
The easiest way to get the information you need to record your finances is to open up your bank account online and write down, line by line, everything going in and out of your account. You should include the date, where it’s from/went, and how much. If you aren’t able to access your bank account online you should be able to go to your bank and ask for a monthly statement.
When you are able to see how every dollar is coming and going it gives you a sense of autonomy over your money and control over where you can cut out expenses.
*images posted are examples created specifically for this post