Tracking variable expenses

Variables expenses, as the name implies, vary over time. Examples of variable expenses include water/electricity/gas bill, telephone bill, food bill, medicine purchases, etc. Because variable expenses change over time, it is difficult to accurately track what you spent if you don’t record such expenses. I will show below you a list of common variable expenses but please be sure to document (for at least a month) your own variable expenses to accurately know your variable expenditures.

Common variable expenses:

Parking meters
Feeding a parking meter is a variable expense
  • alcohol
  • ATM charges
  • baby sitter
  • bank charges
  • barber and beauty shop
  • books
  • bus fares
  • cable or satellite
  • car maintenance
  • cellular or mobile phone
  • children's allowance
  • cigarettes or tobacco
  • cleaning supplies
  • clothing or uniforms
  • dentist
  • doctor visits
  • dry cleaning
  • electricity
  • food or groceries
  • gas or heating
  • gasoline
  • hobbies or lessons
  • internet, web, and email charges
  • landline phone charges
  • laundry
  • long distance charges
  • magazines
  • meals and snacks on job
  • meals out
  • medicine
  • newspapers
  • parking
  • personal items
  • postage
  • recreation
  • school lunches
  • school or tuition fees
  • tolls
  • video, book, tape, and cd rental or purchases
  • water, sewer, and garbage
Meals out expense
Meals out is another variable expense example

I suggest that you track your variable expenses on monthly basis. Each month total all of your variable expenses. Your habit of monthly tracking the expenses will help you answer the question where did my money go? If you don't have a mobile gadget, use a small note notebook, a 3x5 index card to record your all of financial transaction activities (from metering a parked car to a purchase of a computer). Remember accuracy is important for this technique to work - so try recording immediately after purchase and note the type of expense.

You may also have to use your organization skills to keep your register receipts to have a helpful tracking. You may use folders or envelopes or computer software to group similar expenses in one category and others in separate categories. For instance, you would place car repair expenses in the car maintenance category.

A worksheet for recording your daily variable expenditures

You can print multiple copies of this form to practice recoding beyond just a week.

Daily variable expenditures worksheet
Month:
Dates (from and to):
Year:
  Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
alcohol              
ATM charges              
baby sitter              
bank charges              
barber and beauty shop              
books              
bus fares              
cable or satellite              
car maintenance              
cellular or mobile phone              
children's allowance              
cigarettes or tobacco              
cleaning supplies              
clothing or uniforms              
dentist              
doctor visits              
dry cleaning              
electricity              
food or groceries              
gas or heating              
gasoline              
hobbies or lessons              
Internet, web, and email              
landline phone charges              
laundry              
long distance charges              
magazines              
meals and snacks on job              
meals out              
medicine              
newspapers              
parking              
personal items              
postage              
recreation              
school lunches              
school or tuition fees              
tolls              
video, book, tape, and cd rental or purchases              
water, sewer, and garbage              
               
Daily total:              
Posted on 1/31/2007
30,426 views
by Raj Singh