Spending Tracker – Budget Creator

Why are you creating a budget?


This is a very important questions to start with as having the discipline to stick to your budget can be extremely difficult at times and you must remain mentally strong.  When you start with the Why, it will give you purpose on your mission to stick to your budget and achieve the goals that you are trying to reach.  A recent Gallop Poll found that only about 1 out of every 3 people have and maintain a budget so if you currently don’t have one, you aren’t alone – great job on taking the steps towards maintaining a budget and creating a path to financial freedom.

Reasons for a budget:

Reaching your Goals:  Short term goals can be achieved in some cases without a budget but Mid and Long term goals are nearly impossible to achieve if you don’t have a budget.  With no real plan, it’s hard to save for them on a random basis that is unplanned.

Emergency Fund / Piece of Mind:  Living paycheck to paycheck can take a very large mental toll on you.  With no savings built up, one major emergency can have a major lasting effect on your life and put you deeper into debt.  Knowing that you have an emergency fund can have a very positive impact on your overall well being.

Eliminate Useless Spending: When you don’t have a budget and aren’t paying attention to your money, it is very easy to not even realize how much you are spending on things that are not needed.  Your bank account never grows and day by day money is leaking away from your small purchase after small purchase.

Creating a Path to Financial Freedom:  Living on a budget will set you on a path for financial freedom and set you up for a comfortable retirement.  The great thing about a budget is once you create it and stay disciplined, you will know that a plan is in place and you won’t need to spend sleepless nights thinking about the uncertainty of the future.

Whatever your reason is, don’t skip this step!  Discuss with your partner / family and declare why you are going to take more control over your money and your life.  Remembering why you are deciding to change will help your will power when making spending decisions moving forward.


What does the ideal budget look like?

There are numerous different types of budgets that people utilize to effectively manager their money and stay on track for their goals.  Below are some general Categories that a normal household spends on each month as well as the suggested % of your income should go towards these categories in order to maintain a healthy balanced budget.


Debt: 5%

Entertainment: 10%

Groceries / Food:  10%

Housing: 25%

Insurance: 10%

Medical: 5%

Personal Spending: 5%

Saving: 10%

Transportation: 10%

Utilities:  5%

Miscellaneous: 5%


Tracking your spending

You cannot create a successful budget until you truly discover what your current state is.  The best way to gather this information is to download your debit and credit card statements and get them in a spreadsheet.  This can be an alarming but great exercise for you to get a true feel of how much money and on what categories you spend on.

Sign up here for a free copy of our Spending Tracker which will give you a solid visual of where your money is going.  Before you figure out the smartest changes that need to be made you must first identify where it’s going.

Below is an example of someone who has a salary of $60,000 and a take home of $45,000 after taxes, insurance and everything else that comes out of your paycheck.  This individual would have $3,750 each month going into the budget as income.


Expense Amount Category
Rent $865.00 Housing
Coffee $3.15 Personal Spending
Fast Food $8.95 Personal Spending
Car Insurance $119.00 Insurance
Dinner Out $65.00 Entertainment
Gas $35.00 Transportation
Medical Bill $45.00 Medical
Cell Phone $75.00 Utilities
Student Loan $235.00 Debt Payment
Clothes Purchase $85.00 Personal Spending
Coffee $3.15 Personal Spending
Groceries $125.00 Grocery
Fast Food $8.62 Personal Spending
Deposit to Savings $100.00 Savings
Gas Bill $86.00 Utilities
Electric Bill $102.00 Utilities
Concert Tickets $85.00 Entertainment
Cable Bill $135.00 Entertainment
Coffee $3.85 Personal Spending
Groceries $125.00 Grocery
Fast Food $8.65 Personal Spending
Dinner out $85.00 Entertainment
Car Payment $245.00 Transportation
Gas $35.00 Transportation
Credit Card Payment $145.00 Debt Payment
coffee $3.85 Personal Spending
Walmart $60.00 Personal Spending
Fast Food $9.00 Personal Spending
Savings $125.00 Savings
Groceries $125.00 Grocery
Gas $35.00 Transportation
Home Insurance $195.00 Insurance
Fast Food $9.00 Personal Spending
coffee $3.85 Personal Spending
Dinner and Movie $100.00 Entertainment
Groceries $125.00 Grocery
gas $35.00 Transportation
Fast Food $9.00 Personal Spending
Night out with friends $75.00 Entertainment
coffee $3.85 Personal Spending
Target $80.00 Personal Spending
Credit Card Payment $115.00 Debt Payment
Fast Food $9.00 Personal Spending
Dinner out $60.00 Entertainment
Gym Membership $45.00 Entertainment


Now that we have the individual expenses we can group them together to see where our money is going and work on balancing our money.  In this example, we have a serious problem!!  If life continues like this month, we are digging a hole and going into debt by $300.

Spending Pivot Table

Getting Into the Positive

It is vital that we create a budget where we are bringing in more than we are spending.  If you have an unbalanced budget and are spending more each month than you make, it will lead to a life of debt with no financial freedom.  The longer we allow this to go on, the deep a hole we dig for ourselves and it can become very difficult to reverse the cycle.

How do we do this?

  1. Dig into the individual transactions for all of the categories that are highlighted in Orange which means you are spending too much money in that category. Are there things we can cut back on?  In the above example, the categories that we would attack are Debt Payments, Entertainment, Grocery and Personal Spending.


  1. Earning More: Do you have a job that offers overtime?  Could you get a second job?  Do you have skills that you could get paid for?

If your budget is not balanced and you are spending more than earn each month, don’t panic, your first goal should be to get your balanced to at least breakeven.  Once you start forming habits with your goals in mind you will then be better equiped to create a budget with a surplus.


Pro’s and Con’s of Balance Tranfers

Do you feel like you are paying a ton of money each month towards your debt and that the amount you owe never seems to really change?  Credit Card interest can add up quickly since most interest rates are between 15-25% causing you to fall into the Minimum Payment trap which is designed to be a never ending cycle.  If you are someone that is paying the minimum payments on your credit cards we need to change this habit……LIKE NOW.

One great way to pay down Credit Card debt quickly is to open another Credit Card that allows balance transfers.  This will allow you to make payments towards your debt without having to pay any interest!  Below I will outline the pro’s and con’s of opening another credit card with the intent to get out of Credit Card debt as quickly as possible.



Low interest rates: 

Depending on your credit, you can usually find offers that will offer 0% interest on balance transfers for anywhere from 12-24 months.  If your balance is $10,000 and you have an interest rate of 24.99%, you will be paying $2,499 in INTEREST ALONE over the next 12 months.  By transferring to a 0% account, you will be able to put the $2,499 towards the principle which will allow you to get out of debt much quicker.

Debt Consolidation:

If you have multiple cards, you can transfer all of them to the new credit card you just opened via a balance transfer and then you only have to focus on paying the one card off.  This can be easier for some as that means only one payment needs to be made each month.




Transfer Fees:

Most cards will charge you a fee to transfer the balance of your debt and it’s usually in the range of 3-5%.  Make sure you take this into consideration on whether or not it’s worth your while to go this route to pay off your debt in the quickest way possible.  If you are serious about paying off your debt, it can be looked at as a much cheaper alternative to paying the much higher interest rate that you are currently paying.

Adding to your debt:

If you feel that you are in credit card debt because of your lifestyle and spending habits, BE VERY CAUTIOUS when opening up more credit.  If you haven’t identified why you are in debt and made adjustments in your life to get on the path towards financial freedom, you are risking going into even more debt.


Is it worth it for me?

As long as you have your spending under control and can trust yourself not to get into even more debt, balance transfers are a great way to expedite the time it will take you to pay off your credit card debt.  Credit card debt is usually the worst type of debt and the quicker you can get it off your budget the quicker you can utilize that money into investing for your financially free future!!

Easy Money Mistakes that we must avoid

  1. Not taking advantage of a company 401k match.

This is literally free money and if you start young, with time and compound interest you could be throwing away what could one day be 100k+ in your retirement fund.  If you are working for a company that matches, do what ever it takes in order to capitalize on this benefit.

  1. Using Credit Cards for your Wants instead of your Needs

Getting into Credit Card debt, as you may know, can be crippling and very hard to get out of.  Spending on entertainment and alcohol via a credit card quickly can add up on you and ends up costing you A LOT more in the long run.  Try and do everything possible to only use your credit card when you absolutely NEED to.


  1. Not having any sort of savings account

If you are just starting to pursue the path to financial freedom and are not in the greatest financial shape, a 6 month emergency fund may seem daunting.  Don’t freak out at the thought of this, your goal for right now should be to build up to at least $1,000.  If you don’t have some sort of a safety net, you can be forced into some really bad decisions when something goes wrong such as high interest payday loans.

Piggy Bank

  1. Living beyond your means

This is the worst thing you can possibly do and it simply means that you are spending more each month than you are bringing in.  If you do not stop this habit now, you will soon find yourself in a lot of financial trouble with debt that you can almost never pay off.  You MUST find a way to have a surplus of money each month to get on and stay on the path to financial freedom.  If you find yourself in this endless cycle, below are some things you can to do achieve a budget surplus:

  • Cut down on spending – get rid of the frills until your finances are in order.
  • Get a second job to increase your income
  • Pay off debt quickly
  • Ask for a raise
  1. Not having a budget

If you do not have a budget, there is no way that you are making decisions with any sort of financial accuracy as to the impact your decisions are affecting your financial health.  Sitting down and going over all of your bills and all of your excess spending can be an eye opening experience and is necessary if you are truly serious about having future financial freedom.

5 Step Budget Plan- The foundation of Financial Freedom



5 Step Budget Plan- The Foundation of Financial Freedom

5 Steps to creating and sticking to a budget

  1. Income vs Expenses


The first step of creating a budget is to come up with a list of ALL your expenses and the amount of income you earn in a given month.  This part is vital and it’s my recommendation that you over estimate how much you spend on variable costs like entertainment, alcohol, coffee etc.  You want the budget to work for you and I can’t tell you how many times I failed in the past by lying to myself on how much I was spending.


  1. Getting Into the Positive

It is vital that we create a budget where we are making more than we are spending.  If you have an unbalanced budget and are spending more each month than you make, it will lead to a life of debt with no financial freedom.  The longer we allow this to go on, the deep a hole we dig for ourselves and it can become very difficult to reverse the cycle.

How do we do this?

  1. Take a look at the “wants” in your budget: This includes things such as going out to dinners, buying a cup of coffee every morning on the way to work, bars / alcohol.  These are the easiest areas to find money we can cut out of our budget.
  2. Earning More: Do you have a job that offers overtime?  Could you get a second job?  Do you have skills that you could get paid for?
  3. At the very least, we need to get our budget to the point where the Income and Expenses are even. Ideally you would like to have a surplus which will allow us to start paying off debt, saving and investing.


  1.    Pay off Debt:

Having debt is the largest contributing factor as to why we are not financially free.  It can be a crippling part of our lives and you might find yourself shocked once you get all of your debt onto paper.  Don’t Panic!!  The only way out is to have a plan and then execute that plan.  My preferred plan for paying down Debt is the Snowball Technique – below are the steps and an example on how to execute this method.

  • Create a list of all of your Debt and list the lender, the amount you owe, the minimum payments you have to pay and the interest rate.
    • Discover   $2,300            $45.00              89%
    • Capitol One $4,000            $115.00            20%
    • Student Loans $24,056 $350.00              15%


  • The plan works like this, we will pay the minimum payments on all of our debts except for the one with the highest interest rate. We will pay the minimum payment + the total amount of surplus we were able to generate with our budget.  In the above example, let’s assume that we have a budget surplus of $185 per month.  We would pay $115 to Capitol One, $350 to our student loans and then ($45 + $185) $230 per month to Discover.


  • Once a card is paid off


  • Once we are able to pay off our Discover Card, we now turn our focus to our Capital One Debt. We take the $230 that was going to Discover and add it to the $115 that was already going to Capitol One Card so we will start paying $345 each month.


  1. Check in and adjust


A budget is not a set it and forget it type of thing at first, you need to be regularly checking in with your budget and adjusting as necessary.  You might realize that you really need to get your spending in check or that maybe you are doing a great job and adjust to save more.


  1. Keep going until all Debt has been paid off – then stay out of Debt!!!


Once all of our debts have been paid off, we must now stay out of debt and start using that Debt Payment money we had been paying and put it to work.  All of a sudden the $695 each month is going towards your future financial freedom instead of to financial institutions.  It is only once we get to this point that we can truly work towards our freedom.


Get to work on a good budget and go though the next 60 days really staying conscious of how and what your money is being spent on.  If you mess up and over spend it’s ok, just make sure that you realize it as quickly as possible and get back on track asap.  Remember that financial freedom is a lifestyle and not like a diet – keep that in mind every morning and remember how you will feel if you have true financial freedom in life.

9 Money Habits for a Fearless Financial Future

Do you feel like you can control your money and make a budget work for you for a month or two only to have an unforeseen event occur that derails everything?  You are not alone, the average person, regardless of their income level is in the same boat.  Creating good money habits is a lot like going on a diet, you have to make it a lifestyle that becomes part of your unconscious thinking in order to have sustained results.

You have to truly appreciate what you have in life in order to ever get ahead and make the money decisions that lead to setting you financially free.  The problem that most of us face is that we are always in “need” of that next cool gadget, that next model of car that no matter how much money we make, it will never be enough to afford what we do not have.  I’m not suggesting that you should or need to be stingy and not enjoying life in the moment, I’m suggesting that you need to give true thought to what you truly need in life.

The more time we spend thinking or worrying about things we do not have, the more our relationship with money turns negative.  We are taught to think that money is scarce, that money is the root of all evil and it’s simply not true.  It’s only when we consistently think that we do not have enough of it that it becomes a destructive force that can affect our health, relationships and motivation in a very negative way.  Most people fail at changing their money lifestyle because it is not comfortable – you must remember that a new money minded lifestyle equals a new you…..SCARY I know.  But imagine the person you could be if you never had to worry about money, the future and the unknowns of life.

Below are 9 great money habits and a thought on how to incorporate them into a lifestyle.


  1. Simplify your Budget

The purpose of a good budget is to ensure that your money ends up where you declared it should go.  The easier a budget it to track, the greater the chance of success.  Try and lower the amount of categories you have so you can more easily think about it throughout your day.


  1. Utilize the 30 Day “Want List” Concept

If there is something that you feel you want to buy, put it on your list and commit to waiting 30 days before you make the purchase.  After you start doing this you will truly get a feel for the power of controlling impulse.  If you still want it after 30 days then buy it, you deserve it!!


  1. Cook More

Cooking in as opposed to eating out is not only a great way to eat healthier, it’s also a heck of a lot cheaper!!  This can be a great way to spend time with your significant other, family or friends and unwind from a long day.  Eating a healthy diet gives you the mental energy to continue to fend off the need more More, More, More which destroys us financially.

  1. Automate!!

Stop giving yourself the chance to self sabotage your path to financial freedom.  Set all your bill payments up for auto pay to take away your choice of weather to pay them on time or not.  Have money automatically sent to savings each pay check as opposed to relying on yourself to manually do it.

  1. Use Non Regular income to pay off debt

This includes Bonuses from work, left over money from a monthly budget, Tax Refunds etc.  You cannot count on this money so when you do receive it, pay off debt.  The quicker you can get out of debt, the quicker you can use that money to start making you money.

  1. Make investments in yourself

Your earning potential is really just a reflection of how valuable you are to someone.  Investing in yourself by further education that can make you more valuable will lead to you bringing in more money each month.  Believe in yourself and challenge yourself to learn a new skill once each quarter.

  1. Spend Less than you Earn

The more money you can find for saving, investing financially and investing in yourself the quicker you can reach the pinnacle of being financially free.  Without this habit, you will continue to rack up debt, fear your employer and have a very negative relationship with money.  Money will never be your friend if you cannot incorporate this into your lifestyle.

  1. Track your Money Success

If you are like me, you need to feel the sense of victory in order to keep pushing for something.  Track your progress on a regular basis and take time to give yourself a pat on the back for the small wins each day.  If you can regularly think about the impact of your financial decisions on a daily basis it will soon be part of your unconscious and making the decisions that can set you free will be painless.

  1. Regularly Check your Credit

You will be amazed how this habit can affect your lifestyle if you currently don’t check your credit regularly.  It can become like a game and it’s fun to know how the decisions you make effect your overall score.  Good credit leads to MAJOR savings over the long run and is something you shouldn’t ignore.


Start to incorporate these 9 habits into your every day life and you will find that you can stay on track for longer than a month or two and it eventually will be a natural occurrence.