You might think you know where your money is going, but do you really? To discover the truth about your money habits, you need to learn how to track your spending. All of those little purchases (coffee, packs of gum, movie tickets) add up, after all, and it can be eye-opening to see them totaled up after a week, a month, or even a year. If you're not sure where to start, use the tips below to learn how to track your spending.
How to Track Your Spending
Make a list of regular monthly bills. On a spreadsheet, list out regular payments you make each month. The list might include your mortgage/rent, car loan, student loan, phone bill, cable bill, Internet bill, insurance premiums, and utilities. Most of these items will be essentials, creating a baseline for your budget.
Take advantage of online banking tools. Your credit union or bank should offer online services so that you can check your account balances and view transactions online. Some also offer apps, making it easy for you to track your spending on the go. Once a week or so, log into your account to review your recent purchases. Not only will this let you see exactly where your money is going, but it will also help you spot suspicious charges and identity theft.
Write down cash purchases. When you pay for something using cash, it won't be tracked online. To stay on top of these purchases, keep the receipts and add them to your spreadsheet. If you don't receive a receipt, make a note of the purchase amount and date right away. You could write it in a little notebook or type it into the "notes" app on your phone.
Consider using a personal finance app. There are a variety of personal finance apps available these days that make it easy for you to track your finances, like Mint, Prosper Daily, and Personal Capital. Simply connect your bank accounts, credit cards, and loans to the app, and it will track all of your transactions, group them by category, and allow you to explore trends that develop over time.
At the end of the day, setting aside a few extra minutes to review your finances will be well worth the effort. After tracking your spending for a couple of weeks or a month, examine the numbers to see where your money is truly going. Group together similar purchases (groceries, entertainment, shopping, gifts, etc.) to view the big picture, and use this information to accomplish your financial goals. Whether you're looking to save for retirement, pay off debt, or book a vacation, tracking your spending is a great first step.
Are you interested in joining a credit union? If you live or work in southwest Missouri, check out BluCurrent Credit Union. With our unbeatable loan options, 6,800 shared branches across the country, and fantastic customer service, we might be the perfect financial service for you. In addition to our three locations (two in Springfield and one in Nixa), we also offer online and mobile banking for your convenience. To learn more about our services and benefits, please stop by one of our branches or explore our website.