When you don't keep track of your expenses, it can throw your finances into a tailspin. You don't know how much money you have, how much you need or where it's even going. Keeping your information in order can help you improve your financial health and make it better than ever. Assuming you know where your money is going is a lot different than seeing it in black and white. With so many ways to keep better track of your finances, there's almost certainly an option that can work for you.
Use one credit card
Many credit cards will offer you the option to see a rundown of your expenses online during a particular time period. They'll break it down by category - entertainment, utilities, etc. It's an easy way to see what you're spending and even how you've improved your spending habits over time. You just have to make sure you don't rack up the expenses on the credit card without paying off the bill.
Put one person in charge
If you're in a relationship or married and you keep track of your expenses as a couple, one of the biggest ways things can go amok is if both people take control as opposed to only one. Only one person should be in charge of keeping track of the finances. When two try to do it, things get too complicated and dollars get lost in the process.
Use a spreadsheet
Using a spreadsheet is the option that works best for me. I keep everything color-coded so it's easier for me to find when I need to look for something in a specific category. It's free, easy and a preferred option by many.
Put it online
There are a variety of personal finance programs to use online, but the one many seem to be quite satisfied with is Mint.com. Although not all finance programs work the same, many pull all of your financial information - from bank accounts to student loans - and put all the information in one place so it's easier for you to manage. The sites will chart your spending and saving habits and give you the best idea of where you stand financially.
Carry a notebook
It's not the most high-tech method, but it works well for those who need to immediately write down every dollar they spend before they forget to do it later on. If you think this is a good option for you, purchase a notebook small enough to fit in your pocket or purse (along with a pen), then keep it in your wallet so every time you make a transaction you can immediately write it down. At the end of the day, go through and total up all your numbers.
With so many ways to keep track of your finances, it's almost impossible not to know where you stand. Try out a few methods and see which one works best for you. With effort and devotion to making it work, you can certainly get on the track to improving your financial health.
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