Why Track Spending?
How much exactly should you budget for food every month? How about gas for your car? Tracking your spending is to budgeting like a measuring cup is to cooking. Without it, you’ll have a harder time making everything come out right. Furthermore, when you aren’t tracking your spending, it is easy to forget those small purchases that really add up. For instance, if you are a smoker, how many packs do you buy? What about coffee and energy drinks? Not including these in your budget if you buy them on a regular basis can leave you short on money by the end of the month.
Ways to Track Spending
Luckily, in our modern era there are a variety of options for keeping track of your spending.
▪ The most basic and old-fashioned of all: write it down. Carry a small notebook or piece of paper and write down everything you buy and how much you spent. Then when you are budgeting, you can add up how much you actually spent in each category and use that to estimate costs for the next month.
▪ If you don’t want to be constantly carrying a pen around, save your receipts! You can keep them in your wallet and then put them in a safe place so that you can have a record of everything you’ve bought when it’s time for budgeting.
▪ Do you like to use your debit card for most of your transactions instead of cash? Check out Mint.com. It is a secure site that links with your bank accounts and measures how much you spend for you! They even make charts and graphs for you to visualize your spending patterns.
Continuing to Track Spending
Continuing to track your spending is not only a great way to keep your budget up to date, but a way to remind yourself how much you have to spend for the month. It can take trial and error to see what works for you, but you’ll be amazed how much easier budgeting is when you know where your money is going.
By Jenna Knobloch on behalf of Innovative Changes, www.innovativechanges.org