Trouble? Try Tracking Your Money Weekly

A few weeks ago, Heath, a frequent comment and social media contributor to the site, mentioned that he was tracking his money week-to-week. I was curious, so instead of prying too much, I decided to try it myself and see if there are any benefits to doing things weekly. It turns out there are.

Most of us track our money monthly—monthly budgets, monthly income, etc. I still think that’s the best way to do things—since bills and other expenses are typically averaged best on a monthly cycle.

But most of us also review our expenses and other day-to-day things on a monthly basis, which might be too infrequently. That’s especially the case if budgets are tight and/or if you have more than one spender in your family (two parents, etc.).

Our Strategy

Our approach to weekly tracking was as simple as possible, so that we didn’t abandon the system from sheer annoyance of having another layer to deal with.

In a straightforward text file, we keep Monday-Sunday headings with all income and expenses listed under each day for the week. We try to update the document daily, and list any notes next to transactions that had multiple categories or that we know would be hard to remember in a few weeks.

At the end of the week, we email the file to each other as a way to review what’s happened in the last 7 days.

Benefits of Weekly Tracking

We can already see some of the benefits of reviewing our spending on a weekly basis. Here are a few:

  1. It keeps us accountable to each other, since we know that every expense has to make it to the file and will be reviewed within 7 days.
  2. It keeps both of us in the loop about what’s going on with our money on a daily basis, rather than just doing a review once a month.
  3. It prevents us from forgetting what an expense was for when we do our monthly review or enter transactions into our envelope budgeting system.
  4. It lets us react to problem areas quicker because we see them immediately.
  5. It motivates us to save because we celebrate small amounts saved every day, and consequently every week.
  6. It lets us celebrate “no spending” days and motivates us to keep our money in our wallet as much as possible.

Do you currently track weekly or use some other method? What are some of the other benefits you see to doing this more frequently?

Photo by yellowcloud

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10 thoughts on “Trouble? Try Tracking Your Money Weekly

    1. Mint is really great to see all your accounts at once. That’s what I use for transaction review almost on a daily basis.

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Wojo. Yes, I went to weekly tracking of my budget because things were tight following my moving to a new apartment complex. There are always a ton of fees associated with it, and I knew things would be tight for a few weeks.

    It let me readjust, financially, when I needed to, and, out of sheer coincidence to your post on protecting your accounts and bank cards from getting hijacked, I noticed an unusual charge in Illinois inside a retail store. I live in South Florida… If I wasn’t watching my budget and my bank accounts weekly and even daily, I would’ve missed this and not filed a fraud report promptly. However, my bank said they would’ve alerted me the next day (all this went down in the evening, around 10 pm EST).

    I hope to go back to monthly tracking, with some glances weekly as everything stabilizes.

    heath

  2. I have found it easiest to track finances per pay period if you are employed. Assign monthly bills to one of the pay periods. Doing it per pay period makes it easy for me to make sure every dollar is accounted for.

    1. Not a bad idea for a tight budget, since cash flow always seems to be the problem. With your method, at least you know where every paycheck’s supposed to go, not just month-to-month.

  3. I agree, Scott. My only problem is I get paid every 2 weeks, and it makes it tough to budget properly. About a month, month-and-a-half ago, I picked up some extra work. It’s helping, but I’m still trying to get over that hump with the costs of moving.

    Heath

  4. We do the monthly budgeting thing, of course. On top of that, I have created a spreadsheet that breaks our income and outflows down over the course of the month, so I can keep track of where we are each week vs. where we’re supposed to be.

    It’s not a perfect system, and I will have to contemplate the idea of a weekly budget review. Now if I could only get my husband on board.

    1. I like the benchmark approach–I think that would work very well for us on a month-to-month basis.

  5. prob go insane if i tracked myself daily

    i like monthly numbers—especialy the 1st –EVERY payment goes thru that day.i know the ball-park figure and it sooths me

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