Just get back from vacation? Planning a vacation soon? Know how you’re doing with your 2012 budget? I bet your last response is “No.”
Now is most likely not the time you are thinking about your expenses or motivated to check-in on your budget. We know it is not very fun to sit down and figure out where our money has gone. Everyday life often makes it easy for us to lose focus on our regular spending.
With the right expense tracking tool (we love Mint), a smartphone or tablet computer and a good internet connection, cleaning up your transactions doesn’t have to be a boring task. Why not take it outside, enjoy your favorite chilled beverage, and get familiar with what you’ve spent so far this year?
Once you’ve categorized or tagged up your transactions, it just takes a moment to see how much you have spent from January 1st through June 30th of this year (remember to take out any debt or investment transactions). Double this spending number and you should have a good estimate on what your expenses are on track to be for the year. Of course, items like home maintenance, vacations, car purchases and education should be compared separately against their own targets.
How does this number compare to your targeted regular expense number? If you are spending less than you anticipated, maybe now is the time to increase savings towards one or more of your goals. If you are spending more than you planned, now is the time to regroup and take action to keep your expenses in line and plan accordingly for the rest of the year.
Just as it is important for us to take vacations and plan time for ourselves and our family, managing our budget is an important process to keep us on track toward meeting our financial goals. Set some time aside this summer and find out where your money has gone.
Photo credit: diwineanddine on Flickr.