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Trying to Save? 7 Tips for Tracking Expenses and Sticking to a Budget

28 October 2020 No Comment

8 out of every 10 people living in the United States carry debt. Some have student debt, others are paying down cars, and some have their livelihoods tied up in their houses.

Debt makes people poor and one of the primary ways people fall into debt and poverty is from being bad at tracking their expenses so they can stick to a budget.

Do you have trouble keeping track of how much money is flowing out of your accounts?

Are you surprised to see yourself constantly spending more money than you’re bringing in?

If you answered yes to those questions, you’re in the right place. In this post, our team takes you through a handful of tips that will make your expense tracking and accountability process more reliable so you can start building wealth rather than watching it slip away.

  1. Have a Budget to Reference

Tracking your expenses without context is useless. That’s why first, you need to learn how to budget.

Budgeting is the process of being real with yourself about how much money you have and setting marks regarding how much you can spend in certain categories, per your limitations.

While budget creation is a blog post in itself, a quick rundown on how to create an effective budget requires you to understand how much money you make post-taxes. From there, you can split up that money into twelve, monthly chunks and decide how much you have to spend on categories like housing, transportation, health, entertainment, etc.

Once those spending limits are established, you can then track your expenses to ensure you fall under your monthly allowances.

  1. Get a Feel for Your Account Levels

Day to day expense tracking isn’t going to require you to audit each of your accounts with a fine-tooth comb. You can certainly do that but to keep things more practical, we want you to get a feel for where your accounts should be at any given time and how they’re trending.

Having those mental gauges can, at a glance, alert you to budget problems so you can then assess things more closely as required.

Understanding average account balances and trends come down to exposing yourself to your account balances regularly at the beginning of the month, in the middle, and near the month’s end.

Eventually, you’ll get a sense of what to expect and your brain will go off if things seem out of order.

  1. Ensure Auto-Pay Emails You

Expense tracking for some has gotten harder in the digital age. That’s because several people have their bills paid on “auto-pay” which allow money to flow out of their accounts without their explicit approval.

To give yourself visibility into what you’re spending automatically, ensure your auto-pay accounts are emailing you when they make deductions. That way you can stay reminded of what your expenses are and nothing becomes a “phantom expense” that costs you without you extracting value from that spend (ex: paying for a Hulu account you haven’t used in months).

  1. Opt for Paper Bills

Still, having trouble keeping track of your expenses via email? If so, don’t be ashamed of opting into manual, paper bills.

Sure, paper bills create some environmental impact. At the end of the day though, you being able to take care of yourself financially so you can keep your house in order can take priority.

Experiment with getting paper bills and see if they allow you to stay more organized when maintaining your budget. If you see no effect after a few months, feel free to switch back to digital auto-pay.

  1. Consolidate Accounts With Technology

It’s not uncommon for a person to have four or more accounts that money is flowing in and out of. How can you track your spending across all of those accounts and create a cohesive financial picture that lets you know how your budgets are doing?

Through technology.

Apps like Mint and QuickBooks (for businesses) allow you to sync your accounts onto one screen for easy expense and budget referencing. That consolidation makes for a world of difference in people that are having trouble staying organized.

  1. Have Accountability Partners

As you begin to track your expenses more successfully and get a better idea of what you can and can’t spend, you’re still going to be tempted to live outside of those constructs. This is where accountability partners can come in handy.

Tell your family and friends what you’re trying to cut back on. See if they’d be willing to call you out when they see you falling into bad habits.

A few positive pushes can go a long way when it comes to keeping your life in order.

  1. Keep Learning and Keep Auditing

Being financially savvy comes down to investing in your financial education. Whether you’re learning about BitCoin and choose to check it out to expand your portfolio or you’re exploring new savings techniques, keep money at the top of mind and make auditing your expenses a monthly habit.

The more focus you put on finance in your day to day existence, the easier it will be to stick to a budget.

People That Stick to a Budget Set Themselves up for Less Stress

Money can be a massive stressor. By understanding what you can and can’t do regarding your usage of cash, you set yourself up for less worrying and an overall happier life.

That’s something worth pursuing so please, apply the tips we’ve shared with you and start getting disciplined about managing your expenses.

For more tips on how to stick to a budget, explore the newest content we have available on our bog!

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