Last time we talked about systems – what counts as a system, why you need one, and how to choose.
But what do I do with MY money? What systems do I use to track where my money is going, and to decide what I’m going to do with it?
I’m always looking at new systems – it’s like a game to me. I’ve experimented with more systems than I can count, playing with what they do, their strengths and weaknesses, and what works for different people, lifestyles, and ways of thinking.
Despite all that playing, and years of experience with everything from Quickbooks to complicated government tracking systems – even building my own databases – I keep my own systems VERY simple.
I love the power of simplicity.
I track my personal spending in Mint*, my business income and expenses in Xero, and I have a spreadsheet for my spending plan – a list for each month of where I choose my money to go, when things are due, and whether they have cleared my bank account.
All together, it takes about an hour per month.
Mint and Xero download from my bank accounts and learn as they go, reducing time spent hand-entering or correcting anything. Mint keeps me updated on my goals and plans with a regular email each week (though I only create budgets for the categories – like food – that have a tendency to ooze for me). Those emails also remind me to check in with my money if I’ve been busy.
In a few minutes each week I look at Mint and Xero, update anything that is wrong or missing, and compare it to my plan. If I’m a quarter of the way through the month and I’ve spent half my food money, I figure out why (did I splurge for a birthday, for example, or am I just spending unconsciously?), then I either alter the plan or cut back my spending.
Simple. Quick. Efficient.
Together they answer the big q’s – where is my money going and where do I want it to go? The basics.
And that is HUGE. Those systems give me the foundation I need to CHOOSE, based on what is important to me.
Because, regardless of your financial situation, it’s all about choice.
But you can’t choose if you don’t know what’s happening.
Even after 16 years of organizing and understanding money, I can’t keep track of what is happening with my money in my head. I need systems.
And so do you.
Feel free to try mine on for size! 🙂
* Yes, Mint is owned by Intuit, and I have problems with Intuit. I am always on the lookout for simple alternatives, so let me know if you find a good one!