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How to Track My Finances

Whether your trying to tackle a mountain of debt or keep yourself in the black, tracking your finances is the first and foremost thing you need to do. After all, how can you go in the right direction if you don’t even know where you are. Financially that is.

Let me show you how I track my finances. I have tried many different ways, some good and some bad. This is the best way I have found to keep track of my finances.

First off, you need to make sure you can access you bank account and credit card information on line. If you are not set up for this and are unsure how to do this, go to your bank and ask them to explain how this works. You will have much more insight to where your money is going if you can log in any time of day or night to see what your balance is and what charges are listed.

The next step is to try and pay for absolutely everything with either your bank card or your credit card. If you choose the credit card route then make sure you are disciplined and pay your balance every month. There’s no point in tracking your finances just to see them go in the toilet because you started charging everything and end up paying huge interest.

Now sometimes it is not possible to pay for absolutely everything using a bank card or credit card. Most vendors will not let you put a 30 cent banana on your credit card. For these transactions, you will have to hold on to the receipt. Put it in a special place in your wallet or purse. Perhaps even carry a special envelope with you.

Now that everything you buy is either documented on line, or in your special receipt location, you need to put sort this information.

You can purchase some software like Quicken or Microsoft Money, or you can track it yourself with a spreadsheet you create yourself, or purchase one at a much reduced cost. Whatever method you use, you need to separate your different expenses and incomes into different categories. Add up the amount for each category every month. How else are you going to find out that restaurants cost you more than groceries, or that your new car guzzles gas twice as fast as your old one. Separate your categories into sub-categories as well, so that you can see that the reason why your car category was so high this month was because you had a repair (a sub-category), but your gasoline costs were about normal.

Once you do this for a month, you can start comparing month to month totals for each category and eventually, annual totals. This will help you create reasonable budgets based on real numbers and will keep you on track and in the right direction.

Now that I have shown you how I track my finances, you can do the same for yourself. Tweak the method if you have to (everyone is different), but the main thing is to start tracking and you’ll be well on your way to financial freedom and piece of mind.

Roommate Interviews – 15 Finance Questions Every Household Should Be Asking

Have you and your roommates ever felt unsure after finishing an interview whether a potential roommate would pay the rent on time? If the answer is yes, then you’ll find the old saying “you will never know unless you ask” will come in handy. After all, finding the right roommate that you know will pay the rent is about more than taking an educated guess, it’s about asking the right questions.

The key is choosing questions that lets your household find out each candidate’s ability and history of paying rent and expenses on time, any disputes that they may have had over finances and their attitude towards money. Asking these questions will give you a good indication how expenses will be paid in the future while helping you select a roommate that has a similar approach towards finances than existing household members which helps avoid disagreements. Ideally, when creating your interview questionnaire you should include as many open questions as possible. These questions are great conversation starters as interviewees can not answer with a simple yes or no answer and require candidates to disclose information about themselves. Each question you include should help you create a comprehensive picture of how it would be to live with the candidate as a roommate.

So, which questions should you ask to find out if a prospective roommate would be financially compatible? Here are a few questions you can ask the next time you interview roommates for your household.

1. How much money can you afford to spend on rent and expenses each week/month?

2. Which payment method would you prefer to use when paying rent and expenses?

3. Do your prefer to pay for your own food or pay money into a food kitty?

4. Have you ever organized or been responsible for your household’s rent or expenses?

5. Are you willing to be jointly responsible for household expenses or rent? For example, putting your name on household bills or the lease?

6. If we would ring your referees, what would they say about your ability to pay the rent and any additional expenses?

7. Would your friends say you are a spender or a saver?

8. How do you feel about roommates that do not pay their rent and expenses on time?

9. How would you feel if the financial setup of the household would change while being a roommate?

10. How would you feel if the rent or any expenses would increase while living in the household?

11. Have you ever asked a roommate to move out due to an issue about finances?

12. When was the last time you paid a bill, any expenses or the rent late?

13. Have you ever had a dispute with current or former roommates over money? What were the disputes about?

14. Have you ever voluntarily moved out of a household due to a dispute over money? What were the circumstances?

15. Have you been evicted or asked to leave due to an issue over finances? What’s your side of the story?

As you can see, by taking advantage of the old saying “you will never know unless you ask” you’ll find the answers that you will need to choose the roommate that lets your household leave financial disputes behind. Just as importantly, you’ll never be left wondering after an interview if a potential roommate will pay the rent as you’ll have the answer in the palm of your hand.

Good luck and happy roommate hunting!