How I created a wall chart of my monthly income and expenses

This is an on-going series on my journey to financial Freedom. It’s best to read these first before you continue with this post:

This article is STEP 5 of my Financial Freedom goal: draw and display a graph of your totally monthly income and life expenses on a wall chart

What is a Wall Chart?

Wall Chart in the FIRE is simply a graph of your monthly earnings, spendings, and eventually investment returns.

The goal is to:

  • Increase your income overtime
  • Decrease your spending over time

So that over time:

  • You will have more savings which you should invest
  • When your investment returns is more than your spending

Then, you will be officially financially-free!

Why is a wall chart important to our financial freedom journey?

The whole purpose is to make your Life Energy visible.

This gives you a simple picture of your financial situation now and in the future. E.g Are you slowly getting out of debt? Is your spending under control? Is your saving gradually increasing? Is your income stagnant?

Here’s a sample that I took right off the book Your Money Or Your Life (page 227) which the FIRE programme is based

How to do a wall chart? (5 minutes)

  1. Get paper & pen/markers
  2. Draw on a piece of paper
  3. Pull out numbers from the numbers your record of your spending & earning
  4. Paste it on a wall
It’s easy to make a wall chart: get an A4 paper and marker pen. I like to use red market (for spending) and blue market (for earnings)

What the wall chart could mean to you?

It might make you realise that:

  • If you are in debt, the chart could be a motivation on how you are slowly getting out of debt
  • You’re a big spender. And that if you continue to spend 100% of your income, you will never retire

BUT on the flip side,

  • If you continue to save more and spend less, you will eventually be financially-free
  • The more you save, the faster you will get there

Here’s another sample from Your Money Or Your Life. This couple started with a $75,000 debt. Seeing the chart made them aware of their financial situation and they eventually got out of debt and even became financially-free.

What I think of my Wall Chart

  • It’s nice to see that my income is much more than my spending (which translated to a lot of savings). While I do know that already, seeing it in a chart is truly a different experience. It makes me feel “Yes, I’m on the right track!”
  • Because I run a small business and have other side income, my income can get very high at some months (e.g double the average amount). But that’s also when I realise my spending is more (e.g from massages and splurges to pamper myself)
The month where I earn most money is when my schedule is hectic and exciting. Besides teaching at my cooking school, I’m hired for projects like conducting cooking demo and developing recipes. This was at a Korean TV show with celebrity chef Lee Wonil and Kim Sobong.
  • The month where I fell ill and lost 3 kg is also the month that I made the most money. It makes me wonder if I should push myself too much. After all, my real goal is to be healthy and happy
  • My savings is stagnant. I have lived on the smallest amount that I can and still be happy. Any lower, I will feel deprived
  • To increase my savings, I will need to focus on increasing my income instead
  • However, I realise that my investment returns in stagnant (STEP 8). So I’ve been doing a lot more research on how to invests my extra money
The month where I make most money is also when my health was at worst (left). This makes me review my workaholic-tendency and not take on too many projects. After all, the extra money I earned was spent to restore my health and weight (right). What’s the point?

What my Wall Chart means to me?

1. REMINDER TO USE MY LIFE ENERGY WELL

I resonate with the book point that this wall chart is a ‘continuing suggestion to honour my Life Energy’. My income represents the many hours of my precious time on earth, and my expenses represents ways I chose to use my hours.

This chart reminds me to use my Life Energy (money and time) well for maximum fulfilment.

2. MY PROGRESS TOWARDS FINANCIAL FREEDOM

I naturally do not like to think about money. Having a chart pasted on my wardrobe reminds me that I have a financial goal: reach financial independence. It’s also nice to see that I am one-step nearer to my financial goal every month!

3. NAG ME TO INVEST MY MONEY

Saving is a natural thing to me. Spending is under control thanks to my fascination with minimalism and stoicism since a few years ago. Earning more is also not too hard since I have a sustainable business and get side projects as a food consultant. BUT investing is not my strength (yet). Looking at my chart reminds me that I need to work on that….

My Wall Chart is constant reminder that earn my income from exchanging my Life Energy. So I should use it in a way that is inline with my values and dreams (not wasting it on things that means little to me)

Do you have a Wall Chart?

If not, I encourage you to make one. If you already have records of your spending and income (whether in an excel sheet or an app), it takes only minutes to do it!

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