Hey! I’m Sarah, the Tax Associate here at Bette Hochberger, CPA, CGMA. As a Finance Coach on the side, I’d like to discuss some easy ways to track your spending.
In today’s bustling world, money seems to exit our bank accounts just as swiftly as it enters. Tracking your spending is more crucial than ever, especially if you’re aiming for financial stability and growth. If you often find yourself wondering where your money goes each month, this guide is for you. Here are easy and effective ways to keep an eye on your spending.
Start with a Clear Budget
Before you can track your spending effectively, you need a clear budget. This will serve as your financial roadmap.
- List down your fixed expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, subscriptions).
- Allocate a budget for variable expenses (groceries, entertainment, dining out).
- Set aside savings (always pay yourself first!).
Use the Envelope System
This old-school method is surprisingly effective. Allocate cash in separate envelopes for different categories, e.g., ‘Groceries’, ‘Eating Out’, ‘Entertainment’. Once the cash is gone, that’s it for the month.
Digital Expense Trackers
Thanks to technology, there are numerous apps available that connect to your bank accounts and categorize your spending. Some popular options include:
- Mint: Offers a holistic view of your finances by tracking bills, budgets, and investments.
- You Need a Budget (YNAB): Focuses on giving every dollar a job.
- PocketGuard: Pinpoints recurring subscriptions you might have forgotten about.
Daily Spending Journal
Consider keeping a daily journal of everything you spend, no matter how small. At the end of the week or month, categorize and total your expenses. You’ll be surprised how those small purchases add up.
Review Bank Statements
Regularly (at least once a month) review your bank and credit card statements. Look for any patterns of impulse spending or areas where you consistently overspend.
Set Spending Alerts
Most banks offer the option to set up alerts for when you exceed a certain spending amount in a day or when your account balance goes below a specific threshold. This can be a real eye-opener and a check against overspending.
Cash Only Weekends
Try having a weekend or even a full week where you spend cash only. It forces you to be more mindful of your spending when you see physical money leaving your hands.
Hold a monthly financial check-in with yourself (or with your partner if you share expenses). Discuss what went well, where you overspent, and adjust the next month’s budget accordingly.
Tracking your spending isn’t just about holding onto more of your money; it’s about understanding where your money goes so you can make informed decisions and prioritize your financial goals.
As your finance coach, I encourage you to take control of your financial journey. With consistency and mindfulness, tracking your spending can become second nature, leading you to a more secure financial future.
I’ll see you all next time!