If you’re serious about saving money, then one of the best places to start is by tracking your expenses.
It’s pretty easy to measure our fixed expenses. We all know how much we spend each month on rent, healthcare, loan repayments etc. Fixed expenses are easy to track because like the name suggests, they’re fixed.
Short of taking some major steps like moving, you’ll find it hard to save money on your housing costs. And spending a few hours shopping around could save you money on your broadband or cell phone bills, but often we’re locked into year long contracts that would cost way too much to cancel.
So, one of the quickest ways to start saving money is to cut down on the smaller day-to-day expenses instead. These are usually the small costs that we tend to ignore. In our mind, we might reason that they are not worth taking note of – but in reality, they add up to a sizable chunk of our income.
So Where Do You Start?
Most people decide at some point to cut down on these expenses, but they go about it all the wrong way.
They decide they want to save some money, and so they promise themselves that they’ll stop going out for dinner so regularly. This might work for a few weeks, but with no measurable goals to work towards, they slowly fall back into old habits. It’s like deciding to lose weight without committing to a specific diet or exercise plan.
Instead you should spend a month getting an overview of what these expenses are actually adding up to. Tracking your expenses can be incredibly boring (and rather depressing at times to be honest), but it’s vital to ensuring you know where your money is going.
Start by setting up some categories. Most expenses will fall into one of the following groups: housing, food, transport, utilities, dining, hobbies, entertainment. If you’re aware of a daily expense that would fall outside one of these groups, give it its own category.
Now try to estimate how much you spend on all these in a month. You should know how much you spend on housing already, but as you get down to the smaller expenses this will become much more of a guessing game.
And then comes the hard part – starting to keep a diligent record of every penny you spend.
In order for this to work, you can’t do it half-heartedly. You have to make sure it’s comprehensive. If you share your expenses with a partner, make sure they are 100% on board with this as well – every expenses had to be accounted for.
There are a number of different ways you can do this however.
Tracking your Expenses
One popular one is to keep all the receipts of your purchases. This can seem a bit impractical though, as receipts tend to get lost or sent through the washing machine too often to provide an accurate picture.
These days there are plenty of great budgeting apps that can help you out instead. These apps link to your bank account and automatically track all the purchases you make with your cards.
This smart technology will remove most of the pain points, but it’s not perfect. You still have to keep tabs on what you purchase with cash.
At the end of the month, you should have a nice overview of where your money is going. Looking back on your earlier estimates, you’ll probably be pretty shocked at just how much those small expenses add up to.
More importantly, this practice eliminates all the excuses that we regularly fall back on when we’re confronted by our financial difficulties.
Once you see where your money is going, it’s really your responsibility to manage it more effectively and take the cost saving measures necessary.
Once you start saving money, why not get it working for you?
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