Tracking your money can be really confusing. You never knew how many random charges you make until you start trying to categorize them all! I’ve consolidated a list of common money-tracking questions and my responses. Please note: these are examples of how I would do it- but not necessarily how you have to do it! I just want to give you an idea of how I would handle things, but you can absolutely address these issues in any way you choose :) Again, it’s all about what works for you!!

And if you have a question that’s not answered here, please email me! (Ashley@SavingMoneyInYourTwenties.com) I’ll answer it for ya and add it to this FAQ document :)

 

What category do workout clothes fall under? If I really, legitimately, need the item to be able to work out (sports bra, running tights in the winter, etc), then I would put it under Health & Fitness. But if I'm buying my 10th pair of yoga pants (I already have 9 other pairs to wear while working out, I don’t really need another…) then I would put it under Personal Care. I like to keep “Health and Fitness” to just the bare necessities that I need to keep me healthy.

 

What about gift wrap & cards? I put anything gift related under Gifts & Donations.

 

Monthly renters insurance - would this fall under "Mortgage & Rent" or "Bills & Utilities"? I would count it as Bills & Utilities.

 

Where would travel fall? (i.e. airfare, hotel) I put all my travel spending (which includes ANYTHING I spent on the trip- airfare, gas, hotel, meals, etc) under Entertainment. But if you’re going on a trip that’s a “Must Have” and you think that the airfare should go under “Auto & Transportation”, then by all means do that! Do whatever you feel makes the most sense.

 

My credit card posts my cash back rewards once a year. Should I divide that reward by 12 and report it in each month? I would report the reward as Income in whatever month you actually get the money. Just look at it as a really awesome bonus that one month!

 

Where should bank fees go- like a $2 ATM charge, excessive withdrawal fees, or insufficient funds fees? I would put it under Bills & Utilities and try reeeeeally hard to get those charges down to $0! They’re all avoidable fees that you shouldn’t be incurring!

 

What if I purchase a joint gift and then someone pays me back for half of it? For a reimbursement, I would go in and change your original transaction to reflect the actual amount of money that you paid, after being reimbursed. So, say you bought a $40 joint gift, and a week later your friend pays you her $20 share. Go in and change your original $40 transaction to $20, to reflect the actual amount you spent.

 

What happens when I return something? Do I count the refund as 'income' or should it count as whatever the initial purchase was categorized as? Just like the reimbursement scenario, I would go in and subtract the refund from your original transaction. If you counted it as “income”, it would make it look like you got a bigger paycheck that month or something!

 

What if I get reimbursed for something or get a refund after I’ve already done my monthly review? I would go into the Yearly Tracker and adjust the amount for that category. So, for example, if you recorded $80 in “Gifts & Donations” on your tracker for April, and then get reimbursed $20 for a gift, I would go into the Yearly Tracker and change your April “Gifts & Donations” to $60.

 

What should I categorize this Live Your Life {+ still save money!} ecourse as? I would say either Entertainment or Personal Care—something under “Wants”. Of course I believe that this coaching is totally necessary, but I don’t like using “Must Haves” unless it’s something you literally cannot live without. Ya know?

 

What if my parents occasionally throw $20 bucks my way? Should I log that as 'income'? Or do I just wait until I spend it and then log my expenses? You need to log it as both Income and then as an expense when you spend it!

If you only log it as an expense (and skip the income part), then you are skewing your numbers! And we don’t want that :)

 

I have to pay for a parking spot at my apartment complex; where should I put that parking charge? I would put it in Auto & Transportation. It’s a direct result of owning a car, so I think keeping it with the other car-related expenses is a good idea. Alternatively, you could include it in Mortgage & Rent, because it is a direct result of living in the apartment you chose. Either one works- just depends on your preference.

 

How do I categorize expenses (restaurants, entertainment, public transportation, shopping) for my recent vacation to NYC? Here’s what I would do:

Restaurant spending goes under “Restaurants”.

Public transportation, hotel, entertainment, etc-- basically anything else related to the trip goes under “Entertainment”.

As for shopping, it depends what you bought. If it was normal clothes/makeup/whatever that you would buy even if you weren’t on the trip, then I would add it to the normal Personal Care category. If it was something you wouldn’t have bought if you weren’t on the trip (like souvenirs), then put it with the rest of the trip-related expenses in Entertainment.

 

 

 

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