19 Aug Tips for Tracking Your Spending

If you haven’t developed a method for tracking the money you spend each month, now is a good time to start. Having firm grasp on your monthly expenditures will not only help you master creating your budget; it will also alert you to areas where you are spending too much money and will deter you from being too spendy with your discretionary income. Here are some tips for tracking your spending to get you started.

Keep your receipts.

Society today is becoming increasingly paperless, but at least while you are getting started, it’s a good idea to ask for a receipt on every purchase and to save it for easy expenditure calculations later.

Track your online spending.

Of course, it can be more difficult to track your receipts when so many of them are coming to your inbox in email form. To keep track of all of the money you spend online, try creating a folder for all of the email receipts that you receive throughout the month. This will make it easier to go back and count up totals for different categories.

Create a spreadsheet.

Most people find success tracking their spending when using a spreadsheet to keep things organized. For this type of spreadsheet, create categories for regular expenses such as “mortgage,” “utilities,” “cell phone bill,” and “Netflix subscription.” Then add categories for those expenses that tend to fluctuate, such as “gas,” “groceries,” “clothing,” and “dining out.” Some enjoy filling in their spreadsheet with expenses as they work through the month, while others like to use their saved receipts to calculate everything at the very end. If you’re worried at all about going over your budget with expenditures, make an effort to update your spreadsheet throughout the month.

Use an app.

Alternatively, you might consider downloading an app for your phone or tablet to track expenses quickly and painlessly. An app will offer all the same conveniences that a spreadsheet does, with added features such as low budget alerts, automatic payment updates, and bank account syncing. Many apps will allow you to create a budget within the app to help you visually track your expenses in comparison with what your overall budget is.

Be honest with yourself.

You might find yourself surprised or embarrassed by the amount you’re spending in certain areas each month. Rather than letting your spending get the best of you, make it a point to be honest with yourself for the first month of tracking your spending, and alter your spending habits accordingly so that you don’t face the same surprises next month.

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