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Top Ten Ways to Track Spending

1. Keep all sales receipts and create notes to record payments made without receipts. Drop them into a coffee can or plastic jar or a space designated for receipts. Each time you get a paycheck, tally your spending. Sort receipts and notes by expense category. Then regularly total amounts of what has been spent in a category to determine how much is needed in that category each week, or whether spending could or should be reduced.

2. Keep an account book by expense categories.

3. Use envelopes or folders for each category of expenses with an amount of money allocated for expenses for a set period of time, like a month. Record dollar amounts on the outside of the envelope or folder.

4. Pay all bills by check and keep running tallies of how much is left in the allocation for each category. This makes a record system in the checkbook. If it often seems that only particular categories of expenses are the problem, you could monitor only the categories that cause the problems.

5. "Sticky notes" can be posted on credit cards with a notation of the maximum amounts that can be charged on that card. Subtract amounts of expenditures added to the card as you make purchases.

6. An informal method used by some people is the checkbook balance, as a guide to patterns of expenses. If the balance drops below a particular amount, it is an alert to potential problems.

7. Use a budget partner for problems that seem to be spending addictions. Establish a household rule that the expense has to be verbally justified to the budget partner before any expenditure on those items can be made. The budget partner's role is to ask questions to bring greater understanding of consequences of any expenditure rather than telling the person what to do.

8. Keep a log of "financial emergencies" for a few weeks to determine what they are, what triggers them, and then think of ways to avoid them.

9. Purchase inexpensive computer software designed for electronic record keeping. Be sure to back up your records frequently.

10. Carry a small notepad in your purse, car or pocket to jot down spending.

Click here for "A Spending Plan" worksheet to compare your budget allocation with actual expenditure.

Source: Money 2020, A Dozen Ways to Track Spending



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