Your Financial Future:
Keep Track Of Your Spending
Buy a small notebook and take it with you everywhere that you go for a couple of weeks. Write down everything that you spend money on.
- After a few weeks, start putting your expenses into categories, like food, transportation and clothing. Look at how you spend your money. You may be surprised, for example, that you spend so much on food when you are not eating at home.
- Make a list of bills you have to pay on a regular basis, like car insurance, rent or mortgage payments, dental checkups and even gifts that you buy every year. (You can use WISER’s Budget Sheet to help you remember all of them.)
Add up your total income – all of the money you receive in salary, other payments and benefits and any earnings on investments each year. Divide your annual income by 12 to calculate your monthly income.
- Subtract all of your regular monthly bills and the other monthly expenses that you found by keeping track of your spending in your little notebook.
- This will tell you what money you have left for emergencies, like car repairs. Try to set some money aside for emergencies, so it won’t completely throw off your budget.
- Finally, look for ways to start setting aside some money for a savings account. Make a plan to start investing, even a small amount, so that your money can start to grow.
Some good money management practices to keep in mind
- Never have more than two credit cards. Cancel any extra ones.
- Pay off your credit card bills and any other high interest loans or debts.
- If you can’t afford something, don’t charge it unless it is a real emergency.
- Know what you need to buy and comparison shop before you buy it.
- Save for something, then buy it. For example, set $5 aside each day (or week) until you have enough to buy it.
- Have a percentage of your paycheck put directly into your savings account. If you don’t see the money in your paycheck, you will be less likely to spend it.
- Collect loose change. Save your coupon money.
- Break a habit – gum, smoking, sodas, lottery tickets – and save that money.