How to track your money to create a budget and stick to it


Reading time: 4 minutes

Tracking exactly where your money is spent will help you and your whānau make a plan and get ahead. Seeing it clearly gives you the power to make changes and get your money flowing towards your goals.

 

Why track your spending?

It’s practically impossible to remember what you spend money on every day. Tracking spending is important as it shows you where your money is really going. You’ll be able to spot spending leaks and places where you might not want your money to flow. You can then use this information to help you create and review your spending plan (a.k.a. your budget).

How to track your money to create a budget and stick to it

Tracking exactly where your money is spent will help you and your whānau make a plan and get ahead. Seeing it clearly gives you the power to make changes and get your money flowing towards your goals.

 

Why track your spending?

It’s practically impossible to remember what you spend money on every day. Tracking spending is important as it shows you where your money is really going. You’ll be able to spot spending leaks and places where you might not want your money to flow. You can then use this information to help you create and review your spending plan (a.k.a. your budget).

How to track your money

1

Set your goals

What are you and your whānau trying to achieve by tracking spending? What goal do you have in mind? Are you trying to save for a house deposit, pay off debt quicker or save for a holiday? Write down your personal and whānau goals. You can use our goal planner to help.

2

Track your spending

Start by tracking a month of spending. It’s important to note down every single purchase you make in your household. This is the best way to get an accurate picture of spending habits. Even better is to track three months of spending, as you’ll get a really good idea of where your money is going. There’s more below on ways to track your spending.

Money tracking needs to be as accurate as possible so it reflects what is really happening.

3

Create your spending plan

The tracking will give you a pretty good idea of your spending habits, so now it’s time to plan your spending so you’re in control of where your money goes. Here’s our guide.

It’s not as scary as you think – the aim of a spending plan is to help you and your whānau stay on track with your goals.

Did you identify any areas where you could cut back on spending? Have a go at setting some figures for each category of expenses.

Watch for spending leaks

Watch Video

Ways to track your spending

Here are a few options for tracking your spending.

Your bank

If you’re signed up with a New Zealand bank, they will be keeping a record of most of your transactions and data, and they probably include money tracking in their apps. You may find these helpful in categorising your purchases and capturing everything you spend. But remember that you may also be spending from other accounts or cards, or even cash, which you’ll need to record as well.

Apps and online tracking

You might like to try an app that’s designed to help you track your spending on the go.

Some apps can even link directly with your online banking and automatically pull in all your spending!

Here are some examples:

  • Pocketsmith is available as an online tool as well as an app. It provides forecasting, scenario testing and general budget tracking.
  • Wally is primarily used for money tracking, so it’s handy to use before you create your spending plan.
  • Goodbudget is a money tracking app which uses a digital envelope system to make it easy to keep track of your spending.

Spreadsheets

If you are a fan of Excel this could be your go-to tracking tool. Excel or Google Sheets can automatically calculate expenses in certain categories.

Pen and paper

For those who like to be a bit more traditional, writing all your expenses down in a notebook may be the best option for you. Take the notebook everywhere you go.

Or try our printable spending diary template – My budget planner.

Money tracking tip

Little things like smoothies and takeaways add up, so make sure you include them!

Stick to your plan by tracking your spending

It’s important to continue tracking your money even after you have created your spending plan (budget). Check your actual costs against your plan. How did you do? Does your plan need some tweaks?

It’s not realistic to stick to the same spending plan for months on end. Things change and you will need to shuffle your money around. Put a reminder in your diary to review your plan after three months and see if you can make any changes. Check to see how you are going with your goals – can you find any other money to funnel towards them, perhaps a side hustle?

Why not give our budgeting tool a go?

Plan your spending with a budget

A budget (or money plan) is really just a simple plan for your spending.

Read guide

Don’t know where to start?

Check out our 6 steps Get Sorted programme to get you on track.

Head to the 6 steps
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