Show Me the Money! 3 Helpful Tips for Tracking Your Spending
Stop guessing where your money is going and start understanding where you are spending! Tracking spending is simple, but we know it isn’t always easy to keep up with. We have some tips to make it easier.
Not sure you’re ready for this? Take a minute to think about your goal. Remember that your daily money habits are the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. Feeling a bit more ready? Let’s do this.
First things first, keep it light and easy. There are a variety of methods and tools to track your spending, including some that we’ve listed below to help you get started. Decide on the method you want to use and just go for it. Try it for a week. Once you are finished, you will have all the info you need to take the next step to reach your goal. It is best to track for the full seven days to get a good idea of your patterns and habits, but if you miss a day just start over the next day.
Here are my top tips for tracking your spending.
Use a Spending Tracker
Track income and expenses using this easy app for iOS or Android. There’s no need to set up any budgets in advance. Just install the app and start tracking.
Spend it/Write it
Use a good-old fashioned pen and paper to write down what you spend. Try to track daily, missed days usually = missing dollars. Checkbook registers are a cheap and easy way to keep your spending details in one place.
Use a Paper Tracker
Print the tracker and carry it with you during the week. If you don’t write down what you spend right away, be sure to hold on to your receipts so you can put in the details later. Keep receipts and total them up at the end of each week. Click here to download a spending tracker from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
This is all about progress, not perfection. The main thing here is to observe, but don’t judge (that really doesn’t help anyway, and just makes you feel bad).
Saundra Davis is a nationally recognized financial coach and educator. Her experience in the U.S. Navy, where she made every money mistake possible, and her 20 years serving community-based organizations led her to the reality that the best way to help people find a path out of poverty is to help them become their own financial expert.