The first step is to track your spending for a month. You don't need to wait until the first of the month, so start today. There’s no time like the present!
*Collect your bills and make a list of your monthly expenses.
*Go through your bank statement and find your automatic payments.
*Use free apps like Mint or Spending Tracker to track cash purchases and any additional purchases that have yet to be added to your list of expenses.
Once you've collected your information, you can begin filling out the Conscious Spending Plan Worksheet. This worksheet is designed to help you remember one-off expenses or categories you might forget to add to your spending plan. Once your worksheet is complete, you'll add your summarized amounts to your Monthly Conscious Spending Plan download. You’ll review that towards the end of the month to set your new spending plan for the following month.
Let’s review your conscious spending plan worksheet and go over tips and suggestions for some of the categories.
Here are some descriptions of what goes on each line.
Revenue - money received if you are self-employed.
Dividends - extra money from bonuses or insurance profit sharing.
Interest - interest earned on accounts such as savings accounts or investments.
Reimbursements - business expense reimbursements from your employer.
Other - this category is for extra earnings from things like Uber, Etsy, overtime, a second job, or any other extra income you earn.
If you have an IRA, 401(k), HSA or 529 Plan that your employer automatically deducts from your paycheck, you don't need to add them to your worksheet. If you are self-employed and you contribute to them individually, then you should add them to your conscious spending plan.
Most mortgages include your property tax, HOA and Homeowner's Insurance. If you have a seller-financed home loan or your home is paid off then you will add those categories separately.
If you rent and you don't have renter's insurance, you should check into purchasing it. Renter's insurance is fairly inexpensive and if something happens to the home (or apartment) you are renting, the owner's homeowner's insurance will cover the structure but not your personal belongings.
If you have your subscriptions set up for automatic payments, be sure to check your bank statements monthly to make sure they aren't over-charging you or that their prices haven't gone up.
Canceling subscriptions are one of the easiest ways to reduce spending when money is tight so you can put more of your money towards debt reduction, your emergency savings, or anything else that is a priority. Do you really need that razor club, that makeup box, or pet treat box every month?
Now that you have filled out your Conscious Spending Plan Worksheet, you’ll transfer those amounts to your Monthly Conscious Spending Plan:
A good rule of thumb is the 50/30/20 rule. Fifty percent of your plan should go towards your basic living expenses such as housing, utilities
Thirty percent of your plan should be for personal expenses, such as education, personal care, pets, running a small business, and so on.
Twenty percent of your plan should be for savings. That includes emergency funds, retirement savings, 401(k), etc. Another common practice is to save ten percent and donate ten percent, either to a church or charity.
If your percentages are skewed, don't worry, this is just a guideline. Each person's plan and needs are different. However, if they are grossly skewed, you might want to look at some of your expenses and see where you can make adjustments.
You should re-evaluate your spending plan at the end of each month and see if you need to change anything for the following month. Take control of that money and make it work for you.