One of the primary sources of financial stress is uncertainty. Not knowing if we’ll have enough money to cover all our bills when they are due can be debilitating. But I want you to feel empowered and not stressed. That’s why, in this post, I will show you how to do a monthly expenses snapshot so that you can have a clear understanding of what your month looks like financially.
Since we cannot control the unknowns, we’ll focus on the things we can control, which means knowing what days of the month you get paid and when your bills are due.
You will need the following supplies and information to do your monthly expenses snapshot. Also, as a financial coach, I recommend that you do this exercise before every single month starts.
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What You Will Need:
- Green and orange markers or red and green pens/sharpies
- A monthly calendar (You can download my free template from my resource library)
- A list of all your monthly expenses including due dates
You can also watch my YouTube tutorial and follow along as I do my November 2019 monthly expenses snapshot. Subscribe to be notified when new videos go live.
Watch my step-by-step tutorial on video
Monthly Expenses Snapshot
Step #1 Input Your Pay Dates
The first thing we need to do is figure out when are we getting paid. You can look at the pay dates of the previous month as a point of reference or ask your employer for the exact pay dates.
Some people get paid weekly, once a month, twice a month, or others bi-weekly. You might not think much about your pay frequency, but it is a significant factor.
If you get paid weekly you need to have a clear idea of your monthly expenses so that you put money aside to complete your more costly payments. I do not recommend that you budget by paycheck. Instead, I teach how to do a unique monthly budget and to organize your expenses.
Monthly budgeting will give you a broad perspective of your expenses. I feel like when you budget per week or bi-weekly you lose perspective of expenses that might be happening in the near future.
Because you get paid weekly, some months you will have an extra paycheck. You need to be aware and budget intentionally, otherwise your extra money will magically disappear.
If you get paid once a month, you will need to be very diligent to split up that money and make it last. In this case, you should not expect to receive extra paychecks throughout the year unless you receive bonuses.
Twice a month or semimonthly paycheck
When you get paid twice a month, or semimonthly, you need to be aware of precisely the days you get a check because it varies. It will not always fall into the 15th and the 30th since some months have 31 days.
For some people, if payday falls on a weekend, your company may deposit the money or issue you a check the following Monday. And that is very important to know if it is Friday and you are on your last dollars!
If you get paid twice a month, you will receive 24 paychecks throughout the year.
If you are on a biweekly schedule, you will receive 26 paychecks throughout the year, usually on Fridays. That means twice a year, you will get “an extra paycheck,” so long as you are on a biweekly schedule.
Whichever pay schedule you are on, it is crucial to know when the money is coming in so that you can plan intentionally.
Mark it on the calendar!
Now that you know when you get paid, mark those dates with the green marker on your monthly calendar. Afterward, we’ll mark the due dates for all our recurring expenses with a red pen or orange marker.
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Step #2 Input Your Recurring Expenses
Use your orange marker or red pen to mark all your recurring expenses. I am talking about all the things you spend money on monthly. That includes utilities, mortgage, insurance, debts, tuition, etc.
Seeing the income and expense dates marked on your calendar will give you a clear snapshot of your monthly finances. This information is valuable because, for instance, it will help you realize if you have too many payments coming out during the first half of the month.
If that is the case, you may run out of money and feel forced to use credit cards. And I don’t want you to do that. Sometimes the easiest way to fix this is calling your creditor and asking them to move your bill due date to a different day. You may also need to cut out expenses like cable service.
Step #3 Notice Your Monthly Spending Variations
It is crucial to do this exercise before every single month begins because each month has unique expenses. For instance, if you are on a biweekly pay schedule, I have great news for you. You are likely to receive an extra paycheck in November of 2019.
Knowing that you will have extra money gives you the ability to plan intentionally and not just spend and wonder where the money went.
If you are in debt, you can use that extra paycheck to accelerate your debt snowball. Perhaps you don’t have an emergency savings account, and that extra money can be used to get it started. Or maybe you were relying on credit cards to buy Christmas presents, and instead, you can use your extra paycheck from November to pay for the purchases in cash.
Do you see how this little planning exercise gives you so much information and so many options? I love doing it!
Benefits Of Doing A Monthly Expenses Snapshot
Doing a monthly expenses snapshot will also help you anticipate extra expenses. For instance, we all know that Thanksgiving happens in November. So you need to set some extra money for your holiday celebration.
Perhaps you will be traveling and need to factor in additional gas and lodging expenses. If you have pets and can’t bring them with you, there will be extra expenses to put them in a dog hotel. Or maybe you will have family over and need to buy more groceries than usual.
None of that should be a surprise once you do your expenses snapshot.
The same is true for the rest of the months of the year:
- December is always loaded with extra costs because of Christmas.
- January might be a more expensive month in terms of higher utility bills.
- The summer months for many families are costly not just because of vacations, but also because of daycare or summer camp expenses.
- And don’t get me started about August, with all the back-to-school expenses, every budget will be put to the test!
Monthly Expenses Snapshot VS. Monthly Budget
Your monthly expenses snapshot is not a budget; it is just an outlook of your finances. However, this information will help you create your monthly budget.
Follow my step-by-step guide on how to do a monthly budget, and also make sure that you sign-up to get free access to my library of resources where you can download a copy of the Budget Pad.
I created this smart budgeting guide to help my coaching clients keep track of their money. I recommend that you do a budget on paper and purpose every single month and before the month begins.
If you are not in the habit of budgeting, I suggest that you stick to doing it on paper for at least six months to a year. It is a powerful exercise to track your income and expenses on paper!
I know that there are many budgeting apps out there, and you can upgrade to that or an Excel spreadsheet later. But in the beginning, stick to paper, color markers, and a good old calculator.
Also, there is an emotional disengagement about spending money that comes along with using technology to track expenses.
Conclusion: How To Do A Monthly Expenses Snapshot
Doing a monthly expenses snapshot will help reduce financial stress. Pull out a calendar or download my free template and input all your pay dates and recurring expenses.
Make sure you don’t have too many expenses coming out the same week. Talk to your creditors if you need to move a bill’s due date to a different day. They are usually flexible.
Input any particular expenses or income that you will have that month, like extra paychecks and traveling expenses.
Remember that your income and expenses snapshot is just a picture of what your finances look like for the month. It is not the same as your monthly budget.
On your budget, you will input, into detail, ALL of your expenses, from your recurring bills to gas, groceries, eating out, etc. Doing a budget on purpose and paper is a must before every month begins as well.
If you have any questions, make sure to leave me a comment below. I answer all of them personally. Also, subscribe to my YouTube channel and podcast for more tips on smart finances for busy moms!
Related Articles To Doing A Monthly Expenses Snapshot
- $5,000 Paid Off in Credit Card Debt by Going Cash-Only
- How to Save Money and Stop Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck
- The Budget Pad: Organize your Income, Track Expenses & Save Money
- The Debt Snowball Method
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