After that cold snap we had in Georgia last week, many of you probably wanted to disregard my first Monday-Saving Monday advice about turning down the heat to save money. However, many others stopped by and saved money on our selection of space and room heaters, so perhaps the message was useful after all! This week I’ll focus on something that anyone can do immediately to make their future money-saving attempts more transparent.
Making lists or saving receipts of all of your purchases will help accomplish two goals. First, you’ll have a much better understanding of how much money you’re spending everyday, week, or month. Think of it as a money diet where instead of counting calories, you’re counting dollars. It may seem cumbersome at first, but being able to organize your spending on paper (or electronically) will open your eyes to areas you could be saving more money. If you have receipts or even mobile banking logs of your spending, add them up at the end of each week to learn where your money goes.
The second benefit to tracking your spending is that now you can determine where you can be saving more money. Could you be spending too much on fast food, extracurricular shopping, a bill, or a service you’re not using anymore? Think about ways to curb that spending and put the extra away. Drop a membership level at the gym and save an extra $10 a month. Make your own breakfast, lunch, or coffee to save a few dollars each week. Maybe even shop around for a lower phone service or insurance provider if you think that will put more in your pocket or your saving each month. You won’t know unless you pay close enough attention to your spending on a regular basis.
What are some easy ways to track your spending? As mentioned before, good old pen and paper work just fine. Get a small notebook and jot down every time you make a purchase or pay a bill. Keep an envelope in your car, purse, or wallet to organize receipts so they don’t get lost or forgotten. Refer to them each week, snap photos, make copies, and then toss them to eliminate clutter. You can also make a spreadsheet in Excel, track spending on your bank’s mobile app, or use a mobile budgeting app like Mint.com so you can double check your spending records on the go!
It’s never too late to start making your list and you may be surprised where your money’s going each month! Try it this week and see where you can make smarter spending choices to put money where you need it more. And check back each week for another motivational Money-Saving Monday tip!