One of the most frustrating experiences we all know too well is checking our bank accounts just to find there’s not much in there. Even though you’re going to work every week, your money doesn’t seem to be sticking as it should.
It doesn’t even feel like you went out that much this month or splurged at all, yet still, your account always ends up with only $20 in it the night before payday, or worse, $0. So, what’s going on?
Making money for yourself can be a big game-changer that nobody prepared you for. You have the freedom to purchase what you want, more independence than you had before, and your money’s going towards things you never considered buying before.
It’s easy to lose track of your money, especially when it’s coming into your account consistently and you don’t have many large bills to blame your losses on. If you want a better grasp on your finances, here are five ways to find out where your money is really going:
#1 Use Apps To Connect Your Accounts
When you start to move further into the depths of financial independence, you may have started opening more accounts than you can keep track of on your own. Luckily, more apps and tools are being developed that let you monitor your finances all in one place.
By adding your checking, savings, credit cards, and even investment accounts to one app, you can quickly check in on your net worth whenever you want. Some apps will do the math for you and subtract your debts from your cash flow, clarifying how much money you actually have.
Many of these apps can do a great job of keeping you on track to meet your financial goals. Along with simplifying your finances, many apps also let you create a budget. The app will alert you when you spend over your budget in any particular category.
Not only are these apps practical, but they’re rewarding. If you spend under budget or achieve your savings goals, you’ll be congratulated.
Because all of your accounts are connected in one place, these apps can give you insights into your spending habits over time and help you stick to your budget.
#2 Old-Fashioned Pen and Paper Recording
Many of us are anxious when it comes to tracking our finances digitally. Whether you’re nervous about having all of your information in one place or experiencing analysis paralysis from all of the overwhelming stats, an app may not be the right option for you.
Grabbing a journal and a pen can help you find out where all your money is going just as easily as when you use an app. You can certainly write down the current state of all your accounts and then add and subtract when need be, or you can list all of your transactions and then add them up at the end of each week or month.
You’ll have an easier time identifying where exactly your money is going by consistently labeling the same transaction the same way and then highlighting each with a corresponding color or marker. When you write things down for yourself and add visual tags, you’ll be able to spot trends on your own.
If you notice that in one week, you’ve written down coffee eight times, then it’s clear that your money’s funding Starbucks’ holiday parties.
You can take the information you gather from tracking your purchases month to month and use it to help you better craft a budget for the long term.
#3 Keep Track of Your Bills and Statements
If you’re not the best at marking down every time you swipe your card, hand over a dollar bill, or type in your CVC to a subscription service, then sitting down with your bills and statements each month can be the better option.
Your debit and credit card statements should tell you where all your money is going unless you’re using cash. When it comes to keeping track of the amount of money you’re spending, we recommend using a debit card so that all your transactions appear in your monthly statement.
Give yourself 30 minutes to lay out all of your bills on a desk and look for repetitive purchases, subscriptions, or shopping locations.
You should also pay attention to any outlying figures. You can be great at sticking to your budget overall but end up getting a tattoo every two months that drains a quarter of your paycheck.
Hopefully, the most consistent transaction you see in your statements is a deposit into your savings account or investment portfolio. Finding out that your money’s going missing because it’s helping you build your savings is an excellent problem to have.
#4 Use Post-its and Jars
If you want to literally see where your money’s going, setting up a visual display can help. Try labeling a couple of jars with your most common transactions. You can make these labels specific with titles like “Food,” “Transportation”, and “Utilities,” or broad with “Needs,” “Wants”, and “Savings.”
Whenever you move or use your money, you can crumple up a post-it and place it in the proper jar. Having a visual of volume can help you see where your money is going. If more money is going into your wants than your needs and savings combined, you should build a budget.
Making The Most Out Of Your Money
Finding out where your money is going lets you better shape your financial future.
If you want to start saving and stop watching your money disappear, you should look into online banking guides, needs and wants examples, or just tips for handling money in your 20s. When you know where your money’s going, you can find simple ways to treat it better and make the most out of it.
An example of an excellent way to make the most out of your spending is by using the Extra debit card instead of cash. By using an Extra debit card, you can better stick to your budget and work on building your credit score. Finding more simple swaps like Extra debit cards for cash can change your financial future.
Once you’ve found out where your money’s going, you can ensure it’s going to the right places. Make sure that your money’s always working for you. Are you building an emergency fund, putting money towards larger car payments, or saving money that will help you avoid personal loans?
If your money’s not going towards what you value and want for your future, then it’s not going to the right places. We wish you luck in finding your money and redirecting it to the right places.