The 13 Steps of My Monthly Personal Finance Routine

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The 11 Steps of My Monthly Personal Finance Routine

For a lot of people, having a strict routine will help remember essential things. It is the case for me. I like routines. Each month, I am following the same personal finance routine for my budget. You can see most of the results in my monthly finance reports. In this post, I am going to describe the steps I am doing every month.

I think it is great to have a routine. It helps you get more efficient, and like this, you do not forget to do everything. And once you start doing it routinely, it becomes automatic, and you will save time.

Of course, you do not need to follow the same steps as me. You should probably not have the same steps. Every people can have different things to do based on the way they are investing or based on their situation.

But I would encourage you to define your at least a monthly routine clearly. You can use mine as a base template if you want. And why not even a weekly routine?

So, here are the 13 steps of my monthly personal finance routine.

1. Pay my monthly bills (after salary)

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Once I receive my salary, the first of my personal finance routine steps I do is to pay my monthly bills for next month.

These bills are my rent, my taxes, my insurances, my credit card bills, and sometimes exceptional bills like Billag or some bi-annual bills. My salary goes into my checking account. I also receive some bills in my mailbox that I pay at the end of the month.

Why am I doing this first?

For the simple reason that I want to know how much I have left for next month. And I want to know how much money I can invest this month. I do not believe in the “Pay Yourself First” philosophy. It does not make any sense. If you save as much as you can, there will be something left to pay yourself. Pay yourself first simply make you complacent thinking you cannot save more.

2. Check my emergency fund

I always keep about two months of monthly expenses in my emergency fund. My emergency fund holds about 10’000 CHF.

I directly keep my emergency fund into my checking account. If you have access to high-interest savings accounts, you should use them instead. But in Switzerland, we do not get any interest in bank accounts.

So, once I have paid my monthly bills, I am checking how much I can move to my broker.  I always keep about 10’000 CHF in my checking account. I invest everything higher than that.

3. Invest my extra savings

Once I know how much I can move, I directly move it. I do a bank transfer from my checking account to my broker account. It generally takes one working day for the money to arrive at Interactive Brokers. After I receive the money on my broker account, I directly invest it. For instance, I can invest all the money in my VT ETF.

I am using the new amount to rebalance my portfolio. I am investing in the fund that is the most below its allocation. It is how I am doing balancing month by month. Hopefully, this should help me not having to do a big rebalance at the end of the year. It is in check with my overall investment strategy.

I am also investing a little money into P2P Lending. For this, I am using my credit card to top up my Revolut account. With this, I can exchange money for free in EUR. And from Revolut, I am sending EUR with bank transfers to platforms such as Mintos. I generally invest about 500 EUR per month.

4. Check my spending and budget (on the 1st)

At the beginning of each month, I take a look back at the budget of the past month. I try to do this as early as possible, ideally on the first of the month. I check every expense and earning for mistakes. Once I am sure of my expenses, I take note of my savings rate (can still change with the next two steps).

I am doing my budget in a straightforward way with multiple categories and an amount per category. For me, the budget allocations are not as important as expense tracking.

And most importantly, I take a look at how much we spend on every category. I try to understand what went well and what did not go well. It will help me improving month after month.

5. Check my credit cards

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I am also checking that all the expenses from my credit cards are in my budget. I also check every credit card expense for a possible mistake. Several times I forgot to add small expenses to my budget from my credit card. But the biggest benefit is to make sure that they are no errors or frauds on my credit card statements.

It is also an excellent time to check if I could buy more things with my credit card. Now that I have several credit cards, it is a good thing to check if some expenses are not using the correct credit card. I want to minimize as much as possible my fees. And maximize the small bonus I get for spending with my credit card.

6. Check all my accounts

After my credit cards, I check all my accounts. My goal is to get the value of each of them.

Fortunately, I do not have many. I have a checking account, one at Migros Bank, and another one at Neon Bank. For each of my checking accounts, I verify all the transactions. I also make sure I have put each of these transactions in my budget. It is generally the only account that is moving significantly.

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I also check my third pillar at VIAC. And I have a few P2P Lending accounts that I also check monthly, for instance, Mintos and Fast Invest.

I also have an account at Interactive Brokers for my investment. I check the value of each of my investments. Once I have all these values, I can carry on to my next step.

7. Update my net worth

Net Worth as of June 2018
Net Worth as of June 2018

Now, I got the values of all my accounts and all my investments. It is time to put them together in my net worth tracking application. Once it is done, I get my new net worth!

From my net worth, I can see how much it increased (or decreased) from last month. I also keep track of how much my net worth grew from the beginning of the year.

For me, these are important metrics to keep in mind.

8. Keep track of the trends

One thing I also like is to compare the trend of several things. In the previous step, I can compare the direction of my net worth. It should, of course, go up. But it should ideally accelerate its ascent.

I am also checking the trend of my expenses. For instance, I keep track of the pattern of my expenses over time. One thing that is very important for me is the 12-months average. For example, for my expenses (in black):

Expenses over time
Expenses over time

Ideally, I would like the average to go down to 4500 CHF. But these days it is not great. I cannot even keep it below 5000 CHF. The average is more important than the value of each month. Because you may have some lousy months and some perfect months. But the average should stabilize. I am also checking the trend of my income. And very importantly, I am reviewing the trend of my savings rate. It is the most important trend for me.

Savings Rate Over Time
Savings Rate Over Time

Since I started to improve my finances in 2017, my average savings rate has been consistently going up. It is an excellent sign.

I also check the rate of my income and earnings. Most of my income is very regular since it is my salary. But I also get some little income from this blog. And I like to check how this is going.

9. Check my Financial Independence (FI) Ratio

After I am done with all the data, it is time to get the final numbers out. I can check my savings rate, of course. And its trend as seen in the previous section. But the last value I am checking is my Financial Independence (FI) Ratio. This metric tells me how far away I am from being Financially Independent. I can also check the trend:

FI Ratio Over Time
FI Ratio Over Time

My FI ratio should always go up. For now, it is increasing quite slowly. I am working on making it grow faster. But I am not stressed as to when I will be able to retire.

10. Update our goals

Finally, I have now all my numbers. It is time for me to check the current status of my goals. Every year, I try to set a few goals for the entire year. And every month, I am checking how the goals are going.

For instance, here is one report of these goals from 2018:

Goals as of June 2018
Goals as of June 2018

It helps me to have a good idea of where I am. I also help me see what I should do better to reach my goals. In 2018, many goals were achieved early than I thought. In 2019, I have set some better goals:

Example: Our Goals as of October 2019
Example: Our Goals as of October 2019

Although they are not perfect, I already feel they are much better. You can improve your goals year after year.

11. Set next month goals

Once I have finished inspecting my yearly goals, I am trying to set a few goals for the next month. For instance, if I have spent too much one month, I am going to set a very strict limit on spending in the following one. I am also setting soft goals like:

  • Research credit cards to find a better one
  • Research bank accounts to find a better one
  • Find out what is the best Employee Share Purchase Plan (ESPP) strategy

And so on. I try to put 4-5 goals for each month. I do not always report them on the blog. Generally, I write them down on a piece of paper.

And once I have my goals completed, I try to make a small plan of what I can do to improve on my goals.

12. Study the analytics of the blog

This blog is my only side hustle. So, I am incorporating it into my monthly personal finance routine. If you have other side hustles, it would be good to check them every month as well.

For me, I am checking how much traffic this blog got and comparing this to the previous month. I am using Google Analytics for this. If some pages are getting more traffic than usual, I am trying to understand why. And if the traffic is going down, I am also trying to understand why.

I am also checking if my blog consumes too much power on my hosting plan. I am using SiteGround to host this blog. Since I am using one of their cheap plans, I need to make sure I do not use too much. If I use too much, the experience of the readers will be impacted negatively. If it is too high, it means it is time to go to a higher hosting plan.

I do not focus on monetization very much on this blog. I am just trying to break even. So I am not making big plans for my blog. I am just focusing on filling my schedule with quality posts.

13. Post on the blog

Finally, the last item on my routine list is to post my monthly report on this blog. If you do not have a blog, you may write a small report on your computer. Or you could keep track of the numbers for the next month.

For instance, you can check out the most recent monthly report. This post has the details of my expenses and income. It also contains the current status of my goals. And of course, some information about things that happened during the month. And my expectations for next month.

Why am I doing this? 

I am mostly doing this for me. I want to keep track of my financial status. I also believe it makes me more accountable. And it helps to keep me motivated. And since I like reading monthly reports, maybe some people will enjoy reading mine!

What I do not do

You may have seen that there are also some things I do not do.

First, even though I check the value of my funds, I do not plan any action for them. I do not want to sell or buy based on the price of the funds. I buy as soon as the money reaches my broker account. And I do not sell as long as I do not need the money. It is essential for long-term passive investing.

You have also have seen that my routine is entirely manual. I do not automate any of my money things. I think that automating your personal finances is a mistake. I much prefer to be in control.

Conclusion

Here you have it! My 13-steps monthly financial routine system!

Following this system helps me being very aware of what is going on with my finances. What is good and what is bad. I want to have as much information about possible with my budget. And I want to avoid missing a step.

These steps are personal. Of course, not everybody will have the same. However, I believe everyone should have a bit of a financial routine. Even with you have only a few steps, it helps to do them regularly and each month.

Enough about me!  What about you? Do you have a financial routine? How many financial steps you do each month?

Mr. The Poor Swiss

Mr. The Poor Swiss is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

16 thoughts on “The 13 Steps of My Monthly Personal Finance Routine”

  1. Hey!

    Nice to see your routine! I am filling out my Excel sheet every 1st of the Month to track my progress. The Excel looks like this https://ibb.co/jZk6Wd it changed quite a lot since I started 3 years ago. I have some small statistics as well but I am more the numbers guy so I like to look at these hard facts rather than some graphics :-P – By the way I changed the numbers.

    From your routine I skip steps 3 and 7 – 11. But to be honest I think I check my Excel file approximately 10 times a month and think about what I could change or do better and what goals are possible.

    Cheers,
    Mascap

    1. Hi :)

      Before I had my application for budget and tracking, I was also using a Google Sheets. I was adding so much formulas to it that it was starting to be a mess. So I changed. But Excel and Google Sheets are very good way of managing budget and net worth!

      I also like hard facts, the visualization are more here for the trends and the blog! And for the people I’m discussing my finances with.

      Why do you skip 3 ? It is an important step to me.

      To be honest, this is only the main routine. I’m checking my budget many times a month too ;) I think it’s natural. I’m also checking my investment account in a regular basis.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  2. Thanks for the blog. You are amazingly systematic. Just had a few questions.

    What application do you use for budget tracking ?

    Also how much time does step 3 to 10 take for you per month ?

    1. Hello Arun :)

      Thanks!

      I’m using budgetwarrior to track my budget, it’s a very geeky budget application.

      It probably takes me around 2 hours per month. That’s a rough estimate, I never really counted my time doing that :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Coming to this post after reading your top 5 post for 2018 blog, loving all of them!
    It’s very good that you’re so systematic going about things, that is something I can learn from, a lot! Saving this article for future reference, as I’m planning to start tracking my budget & goals more closely :)

    1. Hi M @ Radical Fire,

      Thanks a lot. I am really happy that my posts are helping people. I am bit crazy about routines, so this is really easy for me. On the other hand, it is more difficult for me to go out of the routine. This is something I need to learn from other people!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I like that you have such a robust monthly routine in place. As for me, I’m embarrassed to say that i don’t have one. It’s been working out for me becuz I “programmed” my brain to naturally spend less, save more and invest systematically. I truly follow these methods here: https://mamabearfinance.com/save-money-without-using-a-budget/

    But now that this blog is born, I’m learning a lot from other bloggers like you on how to analyze my traffic trends. It’s still at a young stage so the data is immaterial but I made it a goal to be more pragmatic about monitoring it. By the way, how do you check your power consumption on your hosting site?

    1. Hi Mama Bear,

      If you can program your brain enough, you will not need a routine indeed. But having one could still save you some time instead of saving you money :) And time is great!

      It’s not really about power consumption (my wording was not great!) but about processor consumption. If you use a host with Cpanel (like SiteGround), they will tell you on the sidebar how much you use these last few hours. That is for shared hosting. If you use a dedicated hosting, you need to connect to the server and check the CPU consumption directly.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I don’t any of that, sounds like too much work! I don’t do any budgeting, hate those :-)

    Once a month I spend 10 to 20 minutes by checking and taking note in a gsheet the money I currently have on, separated by item (accountA, accountB, AccountC, Degiro,Etc ETc)
    – My several bank accounts
    – Retirement funds
    – Brokers
    – P2P
    – Crypto
    – Revolut,etc
    – Any other financial product

    And thats it, did some % calcs on the sheet to see how much it grew from last month, how much each item accounts from total NW, and last column is the best, total NW & % that it grew :)

    Over time you start to get an idea on how much you are growing every month which is nice.

    I have automated deposits every month to the several financial services, and many are automated inside, if not, just go and buy more stock/fund/ETF etc.

    Low hassle and I get most of the benefits, the progress and total NW

    1. Hi Johny,

      It sounds like a lot, but it does not take me a lot of time! Except for writing the monthly update, but most people won’t have to do that ;)

      I do not really budget, but I think that tracking expenses is really important and I would not want to stop doing it. This is also a good way to see if our expenses are increasing or decreasing. I really like having metrics over time.

      I also have metrics on how much my net worth grew from last month, last year, … All this is automated in the budget application, I just have to fill a few things.

      As for automation of the deposits. I do not do that. I think automating money is a bad idea.

      Thanks a lot for sharing!

  6. Hi TPS
    Do you pay your taxes monthly? The payment slips I get are end of March, June, Sep etc
    So its a bit tricky for me, as I have to keep some cash back for future months as well.
    Interested to know if you pay on account monthly to make it easier to budget.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Gavin,

      Yes, I pay my taxes monthly. I am basically paying the taxes for the next year. At the beginning of each year, they compute how much I paid and how much I should have paid and send me a bill with the difference.

      I do not pay monthly to make it easier. I am just using the payment slips they are giving me :)
      I would not mind paying quarterly. Since it’s not a huge amount of money, you can keep some extra cash at all times for this.

      If this is an issue, simply ask the tax office to let you pay monthly instead. This should be possible to arrange.

      Thanks for stopping by

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