A few weeks ago I read a post by my sister-from-another-mother Daisy about ‘The Plan’. A post about financial stability and how to keep track of your spending.
I was raised by my mom who (after divorcing my dad) raised us by herself without any aid from my dad. So I learned the value of money at a young age, knowing I can’t just get anything I want just because I want to.
And although my mom never wrote me something like The Plan she did tell me it’s important to not spend more money then you have and don’t take out a loan unless it’s for something that adds value, like student loans of a house.
But yet, when I was studying to be a teacher money was really tight. Since I was ‘to old’ for normal student jobs and I wasn’t able to combine the job I could do (elderly care) with my study’s and (unpaid) internships money was tight. And after another month of having to break into my pitty amount of savings just to last the weekend until my student aid would magiacally appear on my bankaccount I was fed up with my situation and the way I was handeling things financially, this was not how I was raised.
So, I took the steps similar to the steps Daisy’s mom described in the plan and tried to make sense of my financial situation.
- Gather all your bills, don’t forget things you don’t have bills for.
- Calculate your income
- Write down when bills are due (Daisy’s plan involves her getting paid every other week, but that didn’t apply to my situation. Unless you work for a temp-agency most people in the Netherlands get paid once a month.
- Start a savings account and start saving, even if it’s only 5 dollars/euros.
Doesn’t sound to complicated right? That’s because it isn’t!!
So I got started! Since I almost always have my laptop around I started to build an Excel-sheet.
Under ‘inkomsten’ I would write down all the money that comes in and what I have left from last month. When I get something extra, because I sold something that goes in that column as well. Under ‘uitgaven’ I would write down all the bills that I have to pay every month, so rent, healthcare insurance, my lovely cleaning lady and savings. As you can see I have 3 savings accounts, all with a different goal. ‘Besteedbaar’ is the amount of money I have left that month (besteedbaar = income – bills – money I spend that month). In the columns below I have different columns of stuff I spend money on, grocery’s, looks, everything else and extra bills. So when I spend money, I put the number in the right collomn and the number under ‘besteedbaars’ goes down. When my salary comes in, I start a new month, but I keep the old sheet.
This way I can really track down where my money goes, and even more important: when I notice I’m overspending this sheet tells me where I overspend and how I can save some money. For example: at some point I discovered coffee and Starbucks…. After 3 months I started noticing money was getting tighter again, one look at my Excel-sheets told me I was spending 50 euro’s a month on coffee!!
I could get a dessent cup of coffee at my internship and I had a coffeemachine at home. So I talked to myself in my ‘adult’-voice and limited my Starbucks to once a week.