Skills you need to be taught:
– how to change a tire
– how to jump a car
– time management
– negotiation skills
– self defense
– how to file taxes
– how to set realistic goals
– how to read traffic
– how to spot a scam
– how to balance a checkbook

What school actually teaches you:
– mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell
– group projects ruin friendships
– how to eat in class without getting caught
– cheaters go further
– how to graph a parabola
– Picasso was a lady’s man

So, in this series I decided to make a basic manual for some of these life skills. Starting with this one, how to balance a checkbook. This simply shows you *how* to track your spending, this is not a budget, nor is it a way to save money. This is instead an easy method to see where your money goes each month, and make to you more self aware of your spending habits. This could be a reality check, you to see if you’re earning more than you’re spending. 

I’ve created a chart below, using a two income household, with each person making the national average. I also added an extra category ‘other income’, that is for income that is not regular. Perhaps money you make by raising & selling livestock, cash you get from junking, odd jobs, bonuses, wheeling & dealing, etc…

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The first category is what you estimate your monthly expenses to be. After you’ve track a year, you can get a better estimate. The second category, is your actual spending in a month. The 3rd, is how much more or less you spent than predicted. And the 4th, is what you estimate your annual expenses to be, based on your estimated monthly expenses. The last category, is how much has actually been spent in the past 12 months. I would also recommend creating another category or a line at the bottom of the page that says how much cash you have in savings, and your last credit score. If you have an unusually low or high month of spending, make a note of that at the bottom of the page telling why, and keep the paper for reference. I would advise creating your own chart based off this one, and filing each month’s report into a binder or an organized filing cabinet.

Please understand, this isn’t meant to set a budget, it just lets you track your financial life to see how you’ve changed over time. I hope this helps!

What are your methods and charts for tracking your budget? What life skills would you like me to write about? Do you track your monthly spending habits?

As always, thanks for reading!

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