Do you sometimes feel like all of your money is gone, and you don’t know where it went? If so, you are not alone.
It is common for many households to not know exactly what money is being spent and where the money is going. However, not keeping appropriate tabs on where your money is going can cause many issues, so it is crucial to learn how to track your spending.
An important part of being financially secure and responsible is learning to track your spending consistently. Once you start paying attention to where your money is being spent you can start budgeting appropriately and understanding how much money you can put towards paying off debt or put into a savings account. Keeping track of your expenses can also help you to identify spending issues as well. If you are unfamiliar with how much you spend, you likely do not know how much money you have for certain important expenses like bills, groceries or filling up your car with gas. This can lead to overspending in certain areas or even lead to not having enough money to cover your basic needs.
There are many different ways to track your spending, especially nowadays with there being so many different computer programs and apps designed for that very purpose. However, not every method works for everyone, so it is important to do your research and try out a few different methods in order to determine what works best for you. You may prefer to record everything by hand or to collect receipts. Or you may be more comfortable using an online program or an app that does most of the work for you. Continue reading to learn more about a few different methods you can use to keep track of your spending.
The envelope method is a tried-and-true strategy for both budgeting and tracking your expenses. It works by filling a few different envelopes with cash and labeling them with where you are going to spend that cash that week. For example, you could have an envelope with $30 labeled “Lunch,” an envelope with $70 labeled “Gasoline,” and $100 for “Groceries.” Ultimately, you can completely customize the way that you use the envelopes to fit your needs.
It is important to note that this method works best after you have tried it a few different times so that you can get a better understanding of how much money you really need in each category. You may find that $100 a week for groceries is not enough for your family or that you do not spend all of the money in a different envelope and have some left over. Once you have made adjustments you can begin to see exactly how much money is spent in the various different categories.
If you simply want to compile a list of exactly what you spend and where, you can always use a standard notebook and pen to mark down each transaction. By physically writing down what you purchased and how much you spent each time you are forced to think harder about each expense. This method holds you immediately accountable for each time you spend money, although it does take some practice to get into the habit. You also must ensure that you keep your notebook with you or have a different way to remember any transactions you make if you forget to bring it.
Another straightforward way to track your spending is by using an online spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel. You can create different categories and type in each amount spent and what it was spent on. You can jot down the amounts throughout the day and then update the spreadsheet when you get home, or you use other methods such as saving receipts to remember what money you spent.
Nowadays, many different bank accounts offer programs that track your spending and may even automatically categorize your spending into different groups. This way, you can simply login to your account and see where you have been spending the most money when using that debit or credit card. Some banks offer this capability through a mobile app or through their website.
If your bank does not offer the ability to see what areas you have been spending money in you can still use your bank statements to get an idea on your spending. Most bank statements should state the amount spent and also where the money was spent, so you can see how much was spent at grocery stores, how much was spent on entertainment and so forth.
There are many different online programs and apps available that can help you track your spending as well. Various websites allow you to link up your accounts such as your debit account, credit cards, and even your bills. These programs are helpful because after initially inputting your account information, the software does the rest of the work for you and organizes your spending into different categories. Online programs or apps can be beneficial because they typically do not require much work from you, and they are very efficient at tracking each expense.
After you have decided on which method to use to track your spending, it is crucial that you then use that data to make any necessary changes in your spending habits. Perhaps you discovered that you have spent too much money on eating out, so you can then adjust your budget for cutting back on those expenses. It is also a good idea to see how your spending changes each month so that you can notice any patterns that arise during certain times of the year.
Once you have reviewed your spending you can create a plan for where to cut back and where you want any extra money to go. Tracking your expenses is one of the most important steps towards becoming financially empowered, and it will certainly help you to be more comfortable with your financial situation and your ability to reach your goals.