You’ve set your budget – congratulations. Now how do you know if you’re doing it all right?
This is where your budgeting really comes into play. You can put anything you want on paper, but it’s how well you follow the budget in real life that matters. So how do you track your financial progress?
Check out the steps below.
Choose a Tool
Tracking your financial progress comes down to one thing – tracking your income and expenses. You can do this with pen and paper, but that gets tedious and is hard to keep up and stay consistent. Today, it’s easier than ever to track your finances electronically with either an online program or mobile app.
Choose the program that suits your needs and budget (many are free). For example, some financial institutions have tracking tools with their accounts. Whether you use the tools to their full advantage by tracking your income, expenses, investments, and net worth or you just track your income and expenses, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of how you’re doing financially at all times.
Measuring your Progress
Remember, budgeting is flexible. There’s room for change and even errors. That’s the beauty of it and why it’s so important to track how you’re doing. As you go, evaluate your financial status each month. Are you finding that you overspend in certain categories or that you don’t have enough money to put away in savings each month?
Look at the problem areas and figure out ways to problem solve. Do you need to change some of your line items, cut expenses, or maybe get a side gig? If you are spending more than you’re bringing in, it’s time to rethink your strategies to achieve financial freedom.
On the other hand, if you find that you’re doing better than you thought, reallocate some of your funds to your savings and investment accounts. This is a sign that you’re doing well and you can start achieving some of the short, mid-term, and long-term goals you’ve set for yourself.
Be Flexible and Stay Consistent
As you work through your budget, especially in the beginning, it’s important to be flexible not only with your spending but with how you track it too. If you find that the tool you’ve chosen isn’t working, choose another.
The key is to stay consistent, though. Whether you change tools, fix your budget, or keep everything status quo, continually check the status of your budget and measure your progress. If you set goals, check on your progress every few months. What milestones have you reached? If you haven’t reached any yet, what can you do to reach one?
Keep yourself accountable by tracking your every financial move. While it may seem tedious at first, it’s the best way to keep yourself on track. If you notice things not working, it’s a sign to change things up until you figure them out. If things are going well, stay consistent and look for ways to continually add to your savings and investments to help fuel your financial success.