Low Spend September – 5 Tips

Low Spend September

Every year around early fall and also in mid winter, I get the bug to stop spending money.  This is probably because I’m so into my home projects that I go crazy in the warm and sunny months completing as many projects as I can.

This summer was no different.  I completely re-decorated my downstairs and also redid all non-carpeted flooring in my house and one bathroom.  While I made sure to never go negative on my spending, I’m ready to go positive for a few months and get that savings back up.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past and plan on doing again.  Let me know if you have tips as well!

  • No large purchases – At this point most of my spending is because of large items, tables, couches, etc.  Since there is really no room in my house for any new items, I’m saying no large purchases (which includes outdoor furniture which is my next project area).
  • Limit random spending to $25/weekend – I’ve learned that since having my house I’m always ‘needing’ something new.  I also know it’s impossible to knock out all of my spending, so I’m giving myself a small limit to get random items that come up.  –I finally found placemats and towels that match my kitchen after looking for five months!  That’s where my money went this weekend.
  • Take advantage of freebies and rewards – With all of my redecorating earlier this year, I racked up some rewards points at Wayfair and was actually notified that my points would be expiring soon.  So, I looked around the site and found bought a kitchen knife (we’ve been looking for good knifes).  The rewards I had covered the expense and shipping!  I also signed up for some of those mail freebies which is something I did last year and got quite a bit of stuff.  The main things that stand out are 5 packages of Nesquick mix and 4 tea k-cups.
  • Clean out the cupboard and freezer (and use the items) – Like most people, I’ve gotten in the rut of buying groceries without using all of the groceries I have in my house.  Many times, the items I’m restocking are processed easy to prepare foods which is not good on so many levels.  So part of my savings this month is to use up as much of the food I have on hand without going to the store except for a few perishable items.  I’ve done this in the past and it’s very helpful to save from spending and helps me to eat healthier, and helps with refreshing the cabinets and avoiding expiration dates.
  • Ditching recurring payments – Some other things I’ve done or plan on doing once contracts are up is unsubscribing from television, Netflix, and security monthly recurring fees.  With videos, there are so many ways to watch that there is no need to pay a recurring fee for methods I don’t ever use.  And with the security, I feel that managing on my own will be just as safe as if it was managed by a company because I really just need to know if something has gotten into my house before me so I don’t walk in.  If I’m already home then either way I’d be out of luck.

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Reconciling your Savings

reconciling-your-savings
Last week, we discussed how to reconcile your checking account based on your projections.  This week, we will begin reconciling the savings account as well.

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In our projections example, the first month we transfer to the savings account is April.  To reconcile this transaction, begin by reconciling the checking account the same as previous months.

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When you get to the ‘Transfer’ line, C37 in our example, we will use an equation to get the total amount to transfer.  You could also grab the transfer amount from the Projections page but I prefer to use the equation because it acts as an extra check point.

Because we want to keep $1500 in the checking account at all times, we want to transfer everything over $1500 to the checking account.

To do this, subtract $1500 from the running total.  This is the amount that you want to transfer.  Make sure to put this amount in as a negative amount since we will be taking it out of the account.

Here’s the equation:

  • =-(D36-1500)

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Add a tab titled ‘Savings’ and create the same header as we did for the checking account.  Add the Transfer as the first transaction.  Continue adding on for following months.

 

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Reconciling Your Monthly Expenses

reconciling-your-monthly-expenses
Last week, we learned how to use our spreadsheet to build a savings account or rainy day fund.  This week, we will use our spreadsheet to reconcile our monthly balance of the new checking account.

Let’s begin by labeling our tabs.  I’ve labeled our current worksheet ‘Projections’ and then labeled a new worksheet ‘Checking’.

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Open the Checking account tab and begin by building the headers.  I started my labels in cell A1 and used the following labels:
A1: Date
B1: Transactions
C1: Amount
D1: Running Total

I also made my row 1 Bold because I find it easier to read the table if my headers are bold.

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From there, we will add the information from our ‘Projections’ tab into our checking account.  It is assumed that all transactions that occur throughout the month are done through the checking account.

The order of the transactions here doesn’t need to match the order of the transactions in the projection’s tab.  Use the transaction date to create the order for your transactions.

To enter the amounts, I use a function rather than entering them by hand to avoid errors in typing.  For income, I type the equals sign, click on the projections tab, then click the cell I want.

  • For Paycheck 1, the equation would look like this:  =Projections!B3

For expenses, I use the same process but add a negative before clicking projections so the amounts will be debited from the account

  • For January’s Rent, the equation would look like this: =-Projections!B8
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To fill in the running total (I made all of column D bold), we need to start by pulling our first transaction.  To do this, type the equals sign, then click on C2 in the same tab. You can also type the equation =C2.  This is the only cell you will use this equation.

In cell D3, type =D2+C3 or click on the cells to add the cell numbers to the equation.  This will take the previous balance in the checking account and the new transaction.  Fill down using the methods discussed earlier in the excel budgeting series to complete your running totals.

Make sure that your end balance for the month is the same as the end balance for the month in the Projections tab.  (This example’s end balance is $475.20).  If they are not the same, your account does not balance and the transactions need to be double checked for accuracy.
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Use the same process to add additional months, making sure to double check your totals. In the above example, I added February and March.  Next week, I will show how to include the transfer to the savings account that happens in April of our example.

Side Note:  I also like to use colors to separate my months so I can quickly glance and see the entire month.

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