Top 4 ways to track your spending

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Finance
Sometimes our money seems to just disappear, so it's important to keep an eye on it. Photo: Dolgachov, Bigstock.

For many of us, it can be easy to lose track of our spending. Everyone has their vise. Some people loose track of their money when out socialising, where others may have a tendency to impulse shop.

Overtime, not knowing where your money is going can lead to increased debt, being short on money for when the bills come in and living paycheck to paycheck. Knowing how to track your spending can also allow you to save easily and make you feel more in control overall.

When you feel out of control with your finances, this can impact other areas of your life. You may feel like you can’t go out as much, more stressed out at work and in the home. It can even impact relationships and your health if it goes too far.

Ways to Jump-Start Your Savings

Here are some easy ways to track your spending, so you can increase savings and get back on top of your finances.

Have your bills direct debited

This one will allow your bills to be taken care of so you don’t get that overwhelming sense of dread every time you check the mail. All it takes is an hour to sit down, work out what your bills are and then make some phone calls to get it all set-up.

Firstly, use one credit card where all bills can be paid. Then call up your service providers and get all you bills taken out on a monthly basis from this card.

Once you have set-up your direct debits, organise for a set amount every week from your everyday account to automatically be transferred to your credit card. At the end of each month, not only will your bills be paid but you would have paid back the credit card in which the bills are coming out of.

Bills will always be a part of life. So why not make it a priority. This way not only are your bills getting paid on time, but the money you have left over is easier to track and manage without having to put aside cash for bills. No more having to worry about due dates, balancing costs or getting payment extensions.

Use cash

Nowadays, transactions are commonly done via debit or credit card. Although this is convenient, it can sometimes be difficult when it comes to tracking your spend. Sure, you can log onto your Internet banking and check your balance and where you are spending. But at the time of actively spending, many don’t know what their current balance is and how much they have already spent.

Make it a habit to draw out a set amount of money per day. This way you can clearly see how much you have spent and what you have left. If this is too much of a hassle, then simply just do this on occasions where you spend the most money. For example, going out and socialising with friends is a common way people spend without tracking their money. Before you go out, take a set cash budget with you.

Segment your spending

A big part to tracking is actually sitting down and mapping out what you are spending on and when. An easy way to do this is to track spending for a week and write down how much you are spending on the following:

  • Food
  • Transport
  • Socialising
  • Animals
  • Bills
  • Other purchases e.g. clothes, appliances etc.

Once you have segmented your expenditure, see if you are happy with the way you are spending money. Are you spending too much every week on takeaway? Or is there a way you can cut down your transport costs. For example, could it be cheaper to take public transport into work, rather than pay for petrol and parking when driving in?

Use a shopping list

When we go to the shops without a list, it can be easy to get sidetrack and start putting items in your trolley you really don’t need. When you have a set shopping list, it allows you to stay focused, only purchase your priority items and easily track your spend.

Also, it may be best not to have a physical shopping list, but to use an app or even the notes section of your phone. This way you can have a record of your shopping lists. If you find you are spending too much, you can refer back to your shopping lists and see what you could possibly cut back on.

Tracking your spend doesn’t need to be a time consuming tasks. By making some small tweaks to the way you view your finances, you can easily track how you are spending and also easily identify where to make adjustments if required.