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Determine Your Freelance Writing Fees - 1

Track Your Expenses

Know what you really spend

Before you can determine how much to charge you need to know how much you really spend each month. Most of us have a general idea, but we're often surprised, running out of money sooner than we expect, or having trouble establishing a savings account that we don't dip into often. In other words, most of us have money leaks

The only way I know to plug money leaks is to actually figure out what they are. This means tracking every single expense for at least a month.

Yes, it's a pain, but it pays off; I know, because I've done it. In fact, I'm now working to always write down every single penny I spend.

Why Tracking Expenses Works

Tracking your expenses, all of them, works because:

  • Tracking expenses creates clarity - many of us are vague about our actual income and expenses. You know how it happens; you're at the grocery store intending to get food and your eye is caught by a magazine and you add it to your total. Or you decide to order a cappuccino at your favorite coffee shop. Or a trip to the bookstore for a particular book means you come home with three or four.

There's nothing wrong with spending the money you earn. The problem is when we unconsciously spend more than we meant to. Tracking every expense gets us to clarity about how we're really spending our money.

  • Clarity about spending means we can make better choices. Choice empowers us and helps us expand.
  • It gets you ready for taxes. Many of the items you buy, even on impulse, are actually business expenses. Unless you keep records, it's impossible to remember all the books, magazines, paper, pencils, etc. that are legitimate deductions.

How to Track Your Expenses

The first step is to develop a method. I save all my receipts. I also carry a 3x5 card and when I spend some money that doesn't generate a receipt, I write it down on the card. Other people make good use of small notebooks or the calendar they carry with them at all times.

Don't forget to log in debit card and/or credit card spending. Sure, you'll get this info in statements, but often coded in a way that makes it difficult to tell exactly what you spent the money on. This is particularly true of getting cash with your ATM card. I keep the receipt and log it in as personal walking around cash. I also keep and record each cash receipt.

This sounds like a whole lot of work, and, in the beginning it is. Remember the goal is to get clear on how your earning and spending money. Once you develop a routine, it's simple and takes very little time.

One positive fall-out I've had as a result of recording each expense is that I spend money more consciously, which often means I don't spend on things I don't really want or need. That isn't the goal of tracking, but it's a nice benefit.

Next, we'll look at what to do with all this information.

The next step is to transfer that information into useable data.

Write well and often!

Anne Wayman, Ghostwriter

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Copyright 2004 - 2008 Anne Wayman