It’s really important to have some sort of method for tracking the amount of money you’re spending if you are trying to stay on budget . Thinking you’re going to remember what you spent is not going to work 99% of the time. I’ve tried it that way and it didn’t work.at.all! You really do need to be aware of how and where you spend your money in order to be in control of your finances. I wanted to share my top tips for tracking your expenses.
There are lots of ways to keep track of your dollars – everything from very techy apps on your phone to programs to using simple paper and pencil. You need to choose a way that will work for you and your lifestyle.
How To Track Your Expenses
1. Write it Down
How many times do you spend money and then forget to keep track of what you spent? In an effort to track my spending, I’ve started to write every penny spent into a little notebook I keep in my purse (my husband saves his receipts if he uses cash otherwise he uses a debit card that I check daily). This helps me to track our overall spending. Seeing what I have spent, written down, really does hurt a little! Sometimes you don’t really see the full impact of your spending until you add up a month or two of expenditures.
Whenever you make a purchase, make sure you write it down. I save the most money when I’m tracking my expenses. I’ve also noticed that when I write down what I spend it helps me keep track of my overall budget. Whenever you are swiping a debit or credit card, it can be easy to hand over your money without a second thought. If you are diligent about writing down what you’ve spent, then it keeps you accountable.
Having trouble remembering to write down what you’re spending? Then make sure to save your receipts! Keep them all in one place so you can go back and look. I know it can be tough to save each receipt, but if you want to track your spending, this is the way to do it. This is a great tool to use if you and your spouse are having a hard time deciding who’s doing all of the spending. There are many free apps that you can use to organize your receipts.
2. Envelope System
In the past I’ve used the envelope system and have had good success with it. If you have never heard of the envelope system, here’s my post on how it works. Basically, it’s a cash system for expense categories that you could pay in cash. You allocate your budgeted amount in an envelope. For example: grocery envelope– $100. Each week/paycheck you put a $100 in that envelope for groceries, when it’s gone it is gone! Then you know you spent $100 for groceries, or gas, or entertainment, eating out etc. It’s a great way to control & track expenses that you could pay cash for (obviously you wouldn’t use this to pay your mortgage or rent).
3. Use Technology
Use a program like Quicken, YNAB (You Need A Budget – it’s an online program that also has a mobile app you can use to track your spending) or Excel to track your expenses. Google Docs has a finance template. You can keep a note open on the free app Evernote and write down what you’ve spent during the day and then transfer it to a spreadsheet or program.
Hopefully these tips will help you choose a method for tracking your spending. When you know where your money is going, then you are able to have better control over your budget. I’ve learned that budgeting, using the envelope system, writing down what I spend, and saving receipts helps us to track our spending and stay on the right track! It’s not easy and it’s not fun (unless you like that sort of thing) sometimes you’ll just want to forget it and sometimes the results may be depressing or appalling. You may need to try several different methods until you find that one that works for you. Track your spending and you’ll know the reality of your situation and in the end you’ll be better off for knowing where you’re money is going.
Have you tracked your expenses before? What tips do you have for tracking your spending?
You may also like: How To Make A Budget Binder
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