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Budget Detail

Congrats on taking the first step of managing your money and reading about the MyDailyMark Budget Tool!  This tool is simple to operate once you know the three items you need to enter each month and how to read it.  In the first post and video (found here: The Easy Budget Tool), I reviewed the seven benefits of budgeting and a general overview of the budget tool.  Now, I want to talk about the details of how to operate the tool and get the most out of it!  If you haven’t downloaded the tool yet, download it here:

In this post, I will be reviewing:

  • How to track expenses in five minutes a week
  • How to set up your monthly budget accurately
  • Budget tool tips
MyDailyMark Budget Tool

Tracking Expenses

For best viewing, watch this video in full-screen HD mode.

Most people who start a budget for the first time get frustrated tracking their expenses.  Chances are you have experienced this frustration in the past as well.  The problem comes from either having too much detail or not enough to make the information valuable.  The MyDailyMark Budget Tool does the categorizing, calculating, and analysis for you to minimize those frustrations.  As the video above explains, the only thing you need to do is review your credit/debit account online and enter those expenses into the checkbook ledger for that month with the associated category.  Here is the quick overview of how to do it in five minutes each week:

  1. Go online and log in to each of your checking and credit card accounts.
  2. Look at your recent activity section for that month to pull up each charge to the account.  The section should show the date, retailer/business, and amount for each expense.  Make sure to review all accounts that you use to pay for bills and other expenses.
    • If you don’t have all of your expenses showing on this screen, look at your last online statement to see those expenses and only pull the ones with a transaction date in the month you are budgeting for.
  3. Open your MyDailyMark Budget Tool in Excel and go to the checkbook tab for that month. Ex.) March = “CHECKBOOK MAR”
  4. Enter each expense for that month with the following information:
    1. Expense– This is a note that tells you what the expense is.  You can put as much or as little detail as you want to serve as a reminder.
    2. Category– This is the number associated with each expense in the key to the right. This number is what is used to put the expense in the correct category on the budget tab.
    3. Amount– Take the amount (to the penny!) from the online statement and plug it in here.  This amount will be totaled with all other expenses in the category and used on the budget tab.Expense Tab for Budget
  5. Review the expenses on the corresponding budget tab to see the total for each category and how much you have remaining compared to the budget you set at the beginning of the month.

Make your life easier by doing these two things:

  1. Change the category names on the “JAN BUDGET” tab to reflect categories you spend in most frequently.  If you don’t need all of the categories, then just delete the name and leave them blank.
  2. Enter expenses weekly.  A lot of the charges come across generic, and you will have a hard time remembering what you purchased three weeks down the road.  Plus, doing it weekly will help you track your budget throughout the month and adjust accordingly.
MyDailyMark Budget Tool

Creating Your Budget

For best viewing, watch this video in full-screen HD mode.

BE REALISTIC!  If you remember that when creating a budget for each category, then you will be fine!  If you create an unrealistic expectation for a certain category then blow through it in a week, you will become frustrated and possibly give up.  When budgeting for each month my wife and I go through each category, review the previous months expenses, and first input a worst case number.  Once we finish entering all categories, we see what we need to reduce and come up with a plan to do it.  Here are a few tips and things to consider when planning your monthly budget.

  1. Plan your budget one week before the month starts.  This will allow you to have some of your monthly bills in hand already and be close enough to minimize the chances of not knowing what expenses to expect.  Go into the month with a plan.
  2. Change the category names.  As mentioned above, changing a category name on the “JAN BUDGET” tab will change that category on all sheets.  Changing the budget names will allow you to make it as specific to your needs as possible.
  3. Review previous months expenses.  The best way to plan ahead is by reviewing what you spent last month.  The budget tool has made this easy for you by highlighting your previous months expenses for each category on the current month’s budget sheet.Expense Tracker on Budget Tool
MyDailyMark Budget Tool

Creating Your Budget

These are a few quick tips to help you get the most out of the budget tool:

  • Track Balances: Track all account balances at the beginning of each month by reporting the total remaining on a loan, savings, or checking account totals in the blue columns.  This will allow you to track your progress throughout the year.  It is a rewarding feeling going back several months to see how much you have paid off or saved!
  • Big Picture: As you get through several months, you should check out the YTD Budget tab at the end of the spreadsheet.  This budget combines all expenses from each month for you so you can get an idea of how much you are really spending for the year.  You may be surprised at just how much money you are spending and potentially wasting on a certain category.
  • Filter for Details: When you go over budget in a category and have to ask “What the heck did I spend that much on!?”, then you should try filtering your expenses.  Go to the checkbook tab and click on the tiny triangle drop-down button next to category.  Select the category number associated with the expense in question to see all of the expenses you have entered for the category.  If you entered something incorrectly, then input the correct category number now.
  • Adjust: Don’t be afraid to adjust your budget throughout the month.  If you see that you are spending much more than anticipated, go ahead and increase the budget for that category AND decrease other budgets to even it out.  This may happen with an unexpected expense for a car repair, birthday, etc.  The key is to adjust everything in your budget to make sure you are not spending more than what you make!
Take Action Today

It’s time.  Download the budget today if you haven’t already and start taking control.  You work hard for your money!  Now make sure it is being spent on things you truly enjoy and that will help your future be brighter than you ever imagined!