Any person who wants to make both ends meet must budget his resources. Budgeting requires allocating your money to savings goals which can come in different forms. To save effectively, consider using a savings tracker. This is a simple tool that keeps track of your savings goals from start to finish.
Free Savings Trackers
How to use a savings tracker
The first thing to keep in mind when you start managing your budget is to consider the money that you place into your savings as an “expense.” On your savings tracker, you need to have either a budget category for your savings or the main category with subcategories including “Emergency Funds,” “Travel,” “Education,” and more to name a few.
This means that you place the money leaving your spending account in these specific separate “goals” or “savings accounts” as specified in your savings goal tracker. Most people usually have special savings accounts or just the normal bank accounts which have standard interest rates.
Most people tend to put their medium-term and short-term savings into maybe one or two savings accounts. Many have their separate retirement savings too. But still, money saved for other purposes are still all lumped up into one savings account. If you do this, make sure to keep track of the amounts you’ve saved using your savings or money goal tracker.
Most of us know about “deposits” and “withdrawals,” but what about “splits?” This is an allocation of a single transaction to several budget categories. You can see this when you make a deposit in your savings spreadsheet where a transaction, in this case, a savings deposit, gets split into multiple savings goals.
You can also “split” or “allocate” interest earned to different goals or accounts. No matter how you choose to plan your savings, using a savings tracker or a savings goal tracker will help you monitor where you place all of your money.
Money Goal Trackers
Different types of savings trackers
Using a savings tracker or a money goal tracker helps you organize the way you save money. It can feel intimidating at the start but it’s quite easy, especially when you have set your goals for the tracker. You have to answer questions to determine your goals. How much do you intend to save? Do you plan to save monthly or weekly?
Make sure that you can reach all of the goals you set. If you successfully reach your goals, create a new savings spreadsheet with even more ambitious goals. Here are some ideas about the different types of savings trackers:
- You can have a savings tracker where your savings get broken down into specific increments. Every time you reach that specific amount, colored in one of the blocks on your savings goal tracker.
- You can divide your savings tracker into different areas for your savings.
- To add an element of fun, design your tracker as a coin holder with an old-fashioned design and some cute icons.
- Place a money jar on your bullet journal. Make a drawing of a huge jar which you would break every month. Then you can decide on how much to save for each month in order to reach your savings goal.
- You can also track your savings by drawing attractive flowers in a bullet journal. Each flower petal represents a savings increment, which you would color each time you’re able to set aside enough money.
- No need to get serious about your money goal tracker. For instance, you can have a tracker with a bacon theme and with a goal of setting aside money for home improvement. At the very top of the tracker page have a clever title like “Bringing Home the Bacon” where all the increments saved are strips of bacon which you color.
- You can also have a tracker for when you’re saving up for a new home. You can note this goal clearly with a house drawn on the middle of the page which you surround by bricks that you color one at a time until you reach your goal.
Whatever design or style of tracker you plan to use, setting various increments to reach makes the document highly effective so that you know how much to set aside each time you receive your allowance or salary.
Creating a savings budget for your savings tracker
Before you can create a savings budget for your savings goal tracker, you need to analyze all the expenses you incur in the course of one month. Doing this gives you an idea of where your salary goes. Based on this, you can make the necessary adjustments to achieve your savings goals. Here are some steps you may follow:
- You should first have a good understanding of the “paying yourself first” concept. This is a method that’s recommended by a lot of financial analysts. Here, you set SMART goals as part of your savings plans. In this method, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
- Using a journal or a computer spreadsheet, create an expense tracker. List the types of expenses at the top then entries for costs in the rows under each of the columns. Total all of your expenses at the end of each month. From this, you get a clearer idea of how much you spend and where your money goes.
- You can include yearly and occasional expenses to the expense tracker too like the bi-annual or annual insurance payments, presents for the holidays or other special occasions, costs of vacation, annual dues, doctor’s bills, and others. These expenses may need some creative estimates, so do the best that you can but make sure to use realistic tags on all of these items.
- Now, multiply that total you got by 12 (for the months in a year) then add to this the total amount from your yearly or occasional expenses. This gives you your yearly expenses which you can compare with your yearly take-home salary.
- If your expenses exceed your pay, you have to go back and check where you can make adjustments. If your salary is more than what you’re spending, then you’re in a good financial situation.
- The next step is to compare your goal to the difference between your take-home pay and your expenses. To reach your savings goal, you need to reduce your expenses to make up for the difference.
- Finally, divide your yearly savings goal by how many paychecks you receive in one whole year. This yields an amount that you should put toward your savings each time you receive a paycheck. This is the essence of the “pay yourself first” concept.
Savings Goal Trackers
Smart tips to save money
How do you save money? Savings starts when you put away money, whether you set aside one dollar or one hundred. Here are some saving tips which could make the values in your saving tracker increase dramatically:
- You can save a bundle if you opt to eat in instead of dining outside. Eating in restaurants can be a heavy toll on your expense account. It can be very surprising to discover how much you can save when you eat at home. In case you have friends, try preparing meals for them at home instead of splurging on fancy restaurants.
- Repair your clothes instead of throwing them away or donating them. If you think you could save by buying cheap clothes which are thrown out after a few years, you’re wrong. It’s better to get high-quality clothes which last a lot longer. True, they may be a little bit more expensive, but they’re sturdier. Furthermore, should they get damaged, you can always have them repaired.
- Don’t turn your closets into storage rooms. Donate any clothes which you haven’t used for ages. Or better still to earn a few more dollars, look for a consignment store in your neighborhood to sell your extra baggage. You can also sell these items on eBay.
- Use a shopping list whenever you go shopping. There is that compulsion to buy things that you don’t need each time you visit your grocery store. Buy only what you need and to do this, make a shopping list and strictly stick to it.
- Buying reading materials could drain you of your cash, especially if you love to read. But you don’t have to own a book to read it. Borrow those bestsellers from your local library or spend some time there to read magazines or newspapers.
- If you want to buy something, just wait for 30 days before purchasing This especially applies to impulse buyers. The 30 days gives you enough time to consider other options. Waiting also gives you time to make up your mind if you need that particular item in your life.
- Most people have experienced the effect of credit cards on their budgets and many aren’t good. When you use these cards frequently, debts can add up fast. Leave those cards home when you go shopping. Paying cash prevents you from overspending.
- Cancel your subscriptions. This is an area where hidden costs can add up rapidly. Make it a point to always check your phone app settings every couple of months to make sure you’re not getting charged for monthly fees on apps that you don’t even use. Also, unsubscribe from magazine subscriptions you don’t even read.