Ever wonder what your hard-earned dollars go? Are your purchases aligned with the things you value? Typically, November and December have higher expenses due to holidays and heating. Do you have extra money to cover these costs?
Before deciding if changes to your spending are needed, it’s a good idea to first understand how you use your money now.
Keeping track of everything you buy for a month lets you see all your expenses in one place. Many people who track their spending discover that they're spending money in small ways that add up and sometimes don’t match their priorities.
By tracking your spending, you can discover changes in your spending to make in the future. Allowing you to save for unexpected expenses, the holidays and other goals.
How you can do this:
- Get an envelope. Every time you spend money, get a receipt and put it into the envelope. If the receipt doesn’t list what you purchased, take a few seconds and write it on the receipt. If you don’t get a receipt, write down the amount and what you purchased on a piece of paper and add it to the envelope. If you use a mobile device to keep track of your spending, that works too.
- Review your spending each week. Go through your receipts and enter the total you spent in each category on this worksheet. Add the weekly amounts per category. Write these down in the “Category totals” column. Once you have these totals, add them together to get your total spending for the month.
- Notice trends. Circle items that are the same every month (like rent, car, or cell phone payments). These are often your needs and obligations. Identify any areas you can eliminate or cut back on—these will generally be wants.
At MMFCU, our expert staff can help you get started with this process or identify trends. Achieving financial well-being is a journey we are all on and their will be unexpected expenses along the way. We are here to help you with those items as well.