organizing my finances

Saturday, March 14, 2020 Philippines

growing up, money has been a taboo  topic in my surroundings. people avoid talking about it that it became an awkward topic already, even for me. i also grew up in a household where my parents would usually have some petty fights over money, and way back when i was still a little kid, if someone gives me a bill (as a gift), i don't accept it because i used to not be allowed to touch them (yes, that was my parents' discipline and i am not even kidding).

admittedly, money was scarce for me. my parents didn't earn much. it used to be just enough for our necessities, sometimes it was even less than that. and my parents, at some point, didn't bother to actually manage their money. it only comes and it goes. that's just it.

after taking a business-related degree in college and getting a career out of it, i've seen the light to get out of some financial insecurity spiral. and now that i am earning my own dime already, not having to financially depend on my mom or anyone else anymore, i decided to track down every peso that is coming in and out of  my pocket.

the journey to this, though, was never easy. i mean, it took me two years before i finally came up with a system that actually works for me. i have tried tracking my expenses through apps, also did them with excel and google sheet, i also took a shot on envelope system, but all those didn't really work. they probably did but only for a very short period of time. and being a little bit of a perfectionist, i always caught myself starting from scratch every time i fell off.

this year, on the very first day of 2020, i started from scratch once more. this time, i used my handy bullet journal to track my everyday expenses, my bank accounts balances, etc. -- basically  every peso that i have. so far, it's been working well for me. i've been doing minor tweaking in this current system that i have every now and then to make it work as the time passes by. and since i am an accountant, why should i not utilize the handy tools that i have, right? i have some knowledge in preparing a balance sheet and an income statement, and i also have this handy dandy quickbooks where i can make journal entries and can generate income statements in seconds (credits to my current company for introducing it to me a little more than two years ago), so i better use them in my own advantage.

and if you'll ask me, yes, quickbooks did generate this profit and loss statement for me. all i'm doing is, to enter my daily transactions into it whenever possible, or at least, on a weekly basis, based on what i have recorded in my bullet journal.

it's very important for me to write down all my expenses, compute the balance, and count my cash on hand to check if it matches with the computed balance every end of the day. yes, it might sound like a lot of work, but believe me it takes me only five minutes to do that before i hit the bed. all i have to do is to go through what happened during the day and take note of all the activities that involved some cash flow.

i also make it a habit to check my bank balances at least weekly so i am aware of my standing and to arrest any unusual charges, if any.

with this current system that i have, i am now able to see where my money went during the first two months of this year in a glance. and i love the fact that i can easily compare them so i'd know in which particular category i need to spend less. i have to cover my income figures, though, for some privacy, but i can also see which month i earned less and which month i earned more. for this one, particularly, the total paycheck that i received in February is more than that in January, so that makes my net income in February definitely more than the past month, given the fact that i also have less expenses this month than the previous one.

for some supporting background, i am living with my parents still so that saves me from any rent expense, but of course, i volunteered to contribute in the household which include utility bill payments, sometimes allowance for my siblings, and some few knickknacks here and there. also, i've done a very little grocery shopping these two months (none in January even), because my mom saved me from that (yep, the simple joys of living at home lol).

those bank fees include all transaction fees NOT limited to the bank transactions only. if i make any transaction and there's some fees, that would fall into that category.

the beauty expenses include those money i spent for mani-pedi sesh, footspa, etc.

the birthday expenses is pretty much self-explanatory, and January is my birth month, that's why.

the cellphone expenses include those amount that i pay for my monthly postpaid plan and prepaid load to my extra number when needed.

clothing expenses are those clothes, bags, and/or wallets that i've purchased during the month.

dog expenses is also self-explanatory. there's none for february because mom volunteered to shoulder them all. yay!

entertainment expenses are all those eating outs, movie dates, my netflix and spotify expenses, and all the other kinds of entertainment.

fare expenses are, again, pretty much self-explanatory. i commute EVERYDAY, but luckily work is just a jeepney ride away from home which could cost me at least P8.00 per ride. if i spent more for fare than necessary, that means, i went somewhere else than work and home. lol.

i bet you already know what gifts are, but those are not only limited to birthday presents and the like. this could include some sponsorship and donations made for the period.

i take rice for lunch at work and i just buy ulam in a carinderia (wow, this sounds so conyo), so that's what those lunch expenses are for.

other expenses are, of course, those that doesn't fall in any category. more often than not, they are just one-time expenses or those that happen very less frequently.

skin-care expenses are pretty much those that i spent to watsons. not everything is actually skin-care stuff, but i was just too lazy to break it down, so i just put the total from the watsons receipt into this category (nope, don't be lazy like that hehe).

snacks and travel... i don't have to explain them any further.

uncategorized expenses in january are actually the holiday expenses in 2019 incurred using one of my january paychecks.


and that's pretty much it! that's how i am tracking my finances.

if you're like me who's struggling with your finances, not knowing where your money went and always surprise how they're gone by the wind, i suggest you start tracking them. JUST START. count how much money you currently have and treat them as your beginning balances. then from now on, list down every transaction that you make which involves cash flow (every peso that is going in and out of your pocket/wallet). personally, i keep separate trackers for my cash on hand and every bank accounts, it's a little more work at first, but it makes things less confusing for me.

here is the tracker that actually worked for me:

you can track your money whatever way you want -- apps, excel, google sheet, and many more.

by starting with only tracking the ins and outs of your money, it helps you learn more about your finances. by then, you can start experimenting and do some trials and errors until you wake up one day, and you already have your finances organized.

baby steps, just baby steps.



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