Frugal ’13: Watching Pennies

Frugal Family 2013The subject this week in Frugal 2013 is watching your pennies. Oh I know it, it’s really not much fun, but let me tell you that keeping track of your money is a big deal and that is how you keep it in the bank instead of flushing it down a hole.In order to track pennies, you will need to keep receipts. I know, yucky paperwork. But as I said before, tracking your money is important if you want to keep it from slipping through your fingers. When we first started tracking our money, our tactic was either a basket or one of those pointy stick things where we would place all receipts until they were entered. We were also very diligent to enter each receipt the day they came into the house or by the end of the week. You will end up kicking yourself if you let them build up too long 😉

There are several ways you can track what you are spending and where it is going. There are very easy record keeping ‘pre-mades’ available in both the PC and Mac worlds for free. Just open either Numbers or Excel and open a new document from the templates. The budget formulas are already plugged in. Simply insert your own numbers and away you go 🙂

For many years we preferred Quicken for our budget tracking needs because it was easy to use and could sync with our bank accounts directly. The reports were amazing and highly customizable. You could also track bills and due dates.

Currently we use iBank because we have Macs now. This program is more expensive than Quicken and the depth of the program is not as nice as Quicken. However, for basic money tracking, iBank works just fine. There is a free trial that came with hubby’s Macbook. The fun part is that he has been able to continue using the free trial by keeping to the 5 minutes allowed with the trial. It has kept our banking records, even though it is a free trial. He is just limited to a 5 minute interaction with the program. But free is free, eh?

 This is another option for tracking your money. This is the Pocket Expense app from Apple.

It is currently $4.99 in the iTunes store.

I like this app because I can link it to my bank account directly, or not. It is password protected as you can see here.


The actual ledger is self explanatory. This app allows for the following of several accounts, so you can have your savings tacked as well.

This is a screen shot of just one of the reports you can create on this app.

As you can see from the ad at the bottom, I was testing this in the free ‘lite’ version before I purchased it. That is where the ads remain, so this would be a good beginner app for free as you train yourself to track your spending.

One of the tactics we used when working out a budget was to list the income against the bills that would remain constant each month. Then we tracked the discretionary spending (cell phone bills, utilities, grocery) for a month to get a feel for what we spent in those areas.

 For the discretionary bills, we simply chose which one we would trim down first. As I stated last week, the first thing we trimmed down was the monthly cell phone bill by choosing a cheaper option. Next we worked on trimming down the food budget, but more on that later 😉

This is the budgeting section of the app. Here is where you choose what limit you will spend on your discretionary items.

The calender helps you determine what day bills are due and what day you are spending money.

Another great budget tactic is if you happen to be a spender, then limit yourself to shopping (online or in a real store) only 2 days a week.

It sounds crazy, but this is how I kicked my eBay habit and trust me, it was a nasty habit. Let yourself go shopping, but with a monetary limit in your hand (make it cash if you have very little self control) and only let yourself do it 1-2 days a week. This will very quickly rein in the spending.

This app has several settings, which is nice. Under the category tab you can create the classification of what you are spending your money on to show up in your reports.

Tracking your money is a big deal when learning to be frugal. It can be a real unpleasant eye opener when you learn where the money is going. But learn this, discipline yourself to track it, and watch  your savings account grow!


2 thoughts on “Frugal ’13: Watching Pennies”

  1. Thanks for commenting on Family and Faith Matters – How Can I Stop the Money Leaks? I agree with you – if you had only read the one post – and I went back and added more links to extend the information. But as you know in one post it is hard to tell everything or much at all.My husband and I took the Dave Ramsey course a couple of times – with the hope of running it our small town some day. I also gave 2 workshops while on a mission trip to Poland – to whet their appetite for saving money and using God’s money well.Thank you very much for your comments. I will try in the future to make sure I link back to former posts.My real reason for writing those posts is to get others to THINK… about the money. Blessings,Janis

    1. I was not in any way meaning to be judgmental. I have watched loved ones struggle through bankruptcy and foreclosure. Whenever we broach the subject of the emergency fund, I remind them that we didn’t get that accomplished for years after we focused on budgeting and finance. It can be daunting when you look at your finances and self loathing sets in. Sometimes it feels like a person will never climb out of the hole they see themselves in.I really hope you can light a fire under your town, that would be wonderful!!! Hubby is in the military and it is frustrating trying to teach this to people who live in the “right now”. It is sad 😦

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