Today I’ll show you how I saved an extra $2100 in three months. Everybody wants to have money left over after they pay their bill but we all know this rarely happens. This reality is where the phrase “living pay check to pay check” comes from. I tried to budget my money before but I could never find a way that could adapt to my unique situation and spending habits. To fix this I made my own budgeting strategy called the Fingerprint Budget Technique. It looks at your actual spending and designs a budget unique to you and your needs. The budget adapts to you rather than the other way around.

Below I layout the detail of the Fingerprint Budget Technique where you can have some of the same results I did. Including,

  • Identifying your spending habits and understanding where your money is going every month.
  • Transparently saving at least $2000 in 3 months.
  • Gain the discipline to build on this success.

The Fingerprint budget technique takes only 3 steps and doesn’t require you to buy anything or do anything more than to dig into your financial history and trace down where your money is going. Let’s check it out step by step.

Step #1: Aggregate your spending data into one place

At this point I would strongly recommend you to start spending all of your money through a credit card each month. This will aggregate all of your spending for you and you can really see what is going on. If you haven’t done that at this point it’s not a blocker. You’ll just need to get all that data in front of you so you can start to see what you spend each month.

There is old wisdom that credit cards are evil. This wisdom is is antiquated and a relic of people who put themselves into credit card debt and couldn’t get out. What I’m telling you to do is spend your money on a credit card and pay it off each month. This lets you take advantage of their analytical spending tools and you earn rewards like mileage or even cash dumped straight into your back account. Personally, I like to take the cash. Discover now lets you take the cash in any increment.

I’m using Discover Cards Spend analyzer tool. It principally focuses on using pie charts to display a coarse idea of your spending. I’m running it with 6 months of data so I can take an average for each spending category and know what I typically spend. This is your unique fingerprint of spending. In the next step we’ll budget each category and look at the savings.

This data shows me incredible insights into my personal spending. The first the thing to notice are the big slices of the pie. Mine are supermarkets, services, and merchandise. This already identifies them as the categories that are dominating my spending and probably have the most room to budget. The other thing to notice here is that this is 6 months of data so really I found out that i’m spending $7826/6 ≈ $1306 per month on supermarkets.

Step #2: Budget Your Fattest Categories 

You can see my biggest categories are supermarkets, services, and merchandise. Your spending can be broken down much more than this but deeper digging on spending led me to make this spreadsheet


From Zero to Hero

You can see here I have an average column and a budgeted column. They largely match but you can see on the restaurant category I have made a decision to cut spending there. My income is generated by cell G22 and the left over amounts in D25 and D26 are the differences between my income and the total monthly spending. With out too much sacrifice I have easily gone from a loss of $43/month to a savings of $712/month. This is how I saved $2100 in 3 months and you can too. Grab a copy of my Excel file here , tailor it to your own needs and commit to savings. Going from a loss to a savings of hundreds per month is the hallmark of a successful budget.

Step #3: Track your partial spending and make sure you are on track

You’re on your way

You can see in my Excel file I have left a column for partial spending. You can use this as much or as little as you like but it’s the feature that keeps you committed. The majority of people will decide to budget but never take consistent action on it. Once your behavior is consistent you will build new budgeting habits. You’ll probably even start to think of ways to budget on your own.

In this post I’ve shown you the Fingerprint Budget Technique. It shows you how you can save a substantial mount of money every month. The selling point here is it’s unique to you and your needs. This makes it much more likely that you will actually take action and make progress. Everyone knows they should budget their money. However, they lack a transparent way to do it, so it simply doesn’t get done.

There are many alternate budgeting techniques but most are just too generalized for people to use. Advice like “your mortgage payment should be less them some percent of your take home salary” is just too vague to be applicable. Any real budgeting is going to have to start with a hard look at your real needs and wants. If you fall down and break your arm, you need a cast. You don’t really need a new iphone. The iphone is something you want but don’t really need. The Fingerprint Budget Technique forces you to get organized about your spending. It also gives you all the decision making power to identify and cut wasteful spending. Working like this gives you an actual dollar amount that you can save. Actual amounts will give you the motivation to stay committed and actually succeed.

Get Started

Have you tried to budget your monthly money with varied results? Leave a comment below and tell me what works for you. Don’t forget to grab a copy of my Excel file  and just tinker with the numbers. Change the categories to reflect your needs and see what kind of savings you can generate for yourself each month. If you save that file and stick with it you will have a solid starting point to save money every month.

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