One major issue I’ve had since I’ve been working a lot is keeping track of my expenses. Working days that begin at 12 hours a day typically meant that I would eat out a lot more, and to socialize with co-workers, I often ate out along with them too. The occasional beer and drink here and there add up very quickly. Gradually I knew I had a glaring issue, especially in an environment where income has been highly fluctuative, and I know my youth is short so it is essential to plan accordingly so I actually get ahead financially, not regress.
So I decided to keep/log every receipt, bank, and credit card statement to see where my money has been going.
Firstly, there are 2 main expense sections- the top with fixed expenses, and bottom variable. The bottom are income-related. Excel allows you to make it so that certain cells total/subtract/divide/average others, so they change appropriately as you change the values of others.
Fixed expenses are what you’d expect- rent, vehicle payment/purchase, insurance, loan payments, phone, and other bills like gym, tanning, etc. There is nothing special here, except in my case my phone bill would be of concern. As I work all over the province, I need a plan with lots of data and unlimited country-wide talk to keep in contact, and to give me something to do so I don’t go crazy.
The second section of expenses is variable ones you incur usually everyday. Perhaps this is the section of greatest concern as it includes expenditures that can be difficult to track and add up immensely overtime. In my case, it is the eating out and fuel/maintenance/auto-related that is of significant concern. Eating out includes picking up of stuff from the convenience store at work along with everyone else and during my drive to work, and this adds up dangerously fast.
Eating out is also very expensive around here, a regular dish can run $20-30 just by itself, and sometimes when going out with friends and co-workers you just have to eat and drink a bit to socialize, but I try to limit this. It is very easy to spend $10 in the store and wonder what you just bought, and it is very easy to rack up $50-100 on an evening out. March was when I just moved to Edmonton too, and I burned up quite a bit of funds eating out before I found a place to live.
Fuel/maintenance is of concern too for me because I drive a lot; I drove approximately 41,000km or so since January. I also suffered a hit and run in August, and had to buy a set of winter tires and rims in September and October. For special cases like this, there is a special “Notes” section at the bottom of the spreadsheet not shown in the photo.
And then my third culprit for sucking up my money is supplements (includes protein). It is an expense hobby. Not as expensive as cars, photography (depending on what gear), and computing, though.
The third section is self-explanatory, but the net worth estimate is of particular importance, as I factor in the depreciation of my vehicles there and any debts. It is a financial measure of whether I am getting ahead or losing money, though at the current stage of my life, this may not be accurate as I just recently spent a lot on education (before this year) and training.
So in summary, I started keeping track of my money because I felt my money was flowing out from my pockets too freely. I often am frustrated everyday, thinking I should be much better off given the money I am making, but through keeping track of cash flows I have been learning more.