Investing & Money
piece written on the 2nd April 2014 by  

If my memory serves me correctly I’ve done a post on monthly budgeting before but that’s in the archives and it’s time to look at things again. With 25% of the year passed us we should all be settled in and ready for the months ahead. In theory our budgets should be in place already but with the chaos that is the start of every year perhaps we’ve missed the boat. Now is the time to act.

For the past several years I’ve kept a monthly budget and it has evolved over time based on my findings to a point where I feel it’s sufficient to represent my monthly costs well. The hardest part of using something like this is the dedication – if you don’t use it for every single cent you’re wasting your own time. This is something that you need to commit to completely and you’ll reap the benefits, otherwise I’d go as far as saying don’t bother.

Here’s a quick screenshot of what it looks like:

Monthly Budget Screenshot

As you can see from the screenshot, there’s a lot of detail and that’s the point. What you want to be able to see is exactly where your money is going. The graphs on the right are useful from an overall point of view. I’m able to quickly and easily look at the pie chart and see where the majority of my money is going. For example, the sample data I’ve included shows that most of my money goes into “housing”, which is quite normal. What I can also see is that the green slice represents “food” – that’s quite a bit chunk so perhaps I should look at cutting back on how much I eat and/or perhaps shop at Pick ‘n Pay rather than Woolworths.

What isn’t represented in the screenshot above is the Overview tab in the Excel Spreadsheet, which shows you month on month comparisons. It’s these comparisons that become incredibly useful and allow you to cut back on costs and/or shuffle your money around for a better outcome. Because this is a sample document that data is limited, but here’s what it would look like:

Overview Budget

This sheet allows you to see your total monthly spending over a period of time which allows you to spot trends in your spending which in turn assists with budgeting at certain times of the year. The sheet further goes on to break down Housing, Food, Automobile, Utilities and so forth into monthly graphs so once again you’re able to see month on month comparative spending habits. I find this Overview page to be hugely useful once a few months (even better, years) have passed because it’s the comparative data that allows you to make decisions.

I have gone further myself and created a third sheet that looks at assets (property, investments, etc) and their projected growth against the general monthly spending to get an idea of what direction you’re going in, but that’s outside of what I wanted to share in this post and I might decide to do another post on that by itself.

For the time being I want to encourage you, my fellow readers, to download this document and start using it. I can honestly say that I’ve saved thousands of rands by being dedicated and I’m certain that you can too. If anything, it’ll help you better manage your money!

Click here to download the template!

I hope it’s useful!

Now, when you’ve got this going and you’re saving money, you’re going to want to read these:

And never forget my financial calculators.