Tracking What You Spend

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Ever wonder how much you spend at the convenience store down the street? How about at the coffee shop that's on your way to work each morning?

The odds are good that you have no idea how much you spend on these discretionary purchases each month. Sure, you probably know that you spend too much on them. However, you probably don't know how much is too much.

BudgetWi$e® from BancorpSouth gives you a clear picture of where you are spending your money each month while also providing you with clues as to why you may seem to break your household budget month after month.

Tracking your spending is not always the most enjoyable activity. It can even prove embarrassing depending on where your dollars are truly going. However, tracking is also an important step toward getting your spending under control. You cannot curb your overspending if you do not first know where your money is going.

The Benefits

What is the main reason to track your spending? It is an excellent way to change bad and costly habits.

For instance, you might discover that you've spent more than $500 in fast food and carry out purchases over the past month. That is a significant amount of spending. Maybe that money could have been put to better use. If you even saved just $100 of that dining-out money in an interest yielding savings account, just think how much better off you'd be financially.

Once you get BudgetWi$e® up and running, you'll be able to recognize and change these bad habits. Maybe instead of wasting money on a fast food hamburger on the way home from work, you'll instead eat the leftover spaghetti in your refrigerator.

We may think of ourselves as having no control over our money. When you track every cent that you spend, though, you are the one who gains control. You learn where your money goes, and you gain the knowledge you need to make better spending decisions.

How To Track

Financial experts agree if you decide to track your spending, track it down to the last penny.

That may seem like a challenge. However, BudgetWi$e can help you understand where your money goes each month. It is too easy to forget buying those five candy bars last month. If you log each of these $2 purchases, you'll see just how much money is going toward sweets each month.

At the end of the day, gather your receipts and log your purchases, either electronically or with pen and paper. If you do not want to do this every day, then resolve to log your spending at least every week. The longer you go without logging your purchases, the more likely you are to abandon your efforts to track your spending. You might also lose several receipts, leaving you with an inaccurate picture of your spending habits. Compare these with your BudgetWi$e® account. Have you gone over your budget for the week? Did you stay under? Did everything get logged?

Once you start tracking your spending, you’ll likely be surprised how much you spend and where you have opportunities to save. Saving three dollars a day on coffee can mean hundreds of dollars in your pocket. Saving five dollars a day by bringing your lunch to work can mean even more.

The lesson here? Your money might be going to unexpected places. If you do not track spending, though, you'll never know why you are short on cash each month.