Grabbing a coffee from the local coffee shop on your way to work? What about a snack from a vending machine? How about a lunch out with your coworkers? These small, daily expenses add up, and odds are it’s unclear exactly how much you’re spending on discretionary purchases each month.
This is why it’s important to track your expenses. This could help you to be more conscious of costs and determine how to better budget and where you might be able to save.
Financial experts agree if you decide to track your spending, track it down to the last penny.
This may be the only way to understand exactly where your money goes each month. It can be easy to forget those five candy bars purchased from the vending machine over the span of a month. However, if you write down each of these $2 purchases, you'll see just how much money you are spending on sweets each month.
The best method for tracking spending is the one that works best for you.
For some, the old-fashioned pen-and-notebook approach works best: just open your notebook and jot down what you spent and what you spent it on.
Some prefer tracking expenses in a notepad file on their computer or phone, or even a spreadsheet. There are also many apps that you can use to track digitally.
The tools that you use to track your spending do not matter. Tracking it does.
KEEP A PAPERTRAIL
Always ask for a receipt whether it’s printed or emailed. This will help you remember what you buy, especially if it’s with cash since your card transactions can be viewed online.
At the end of the day or week, gather your receipts. Then log those expenses, either electronically or with pen and paper.
Once you start tracking your spending, you’ll likely be surprised how much you spend and where you have opportunities to save.
The lesson here? Your dollars might be going to unexpected places. Small purchases might be adding up. This doesn’t mean you have to do away with your daily coffee; rather, tracking allows you to be more aware and informed so that you can make smart financial decisions to meet your goals.
One way to get started is by using Ameris Bank’s Household Cash Flow Tracker - see how much you might be able to save!