Where’d Your Money Go? How to Keep Better Track

There’s nothing worse than checking your bank account balance only to see a number far lower than you had anticipated seeing. What happened to that paycheck you just deposited? It couldn’t really be spent already, could it?

Unfortunately balance shock has become commonplace in today’s society. However there are ways to help you keep track of your money and prevent these rude surprises. Here are three ways to help you figure out where your money went:

Create a budget

You saw this coming didn’t you? Yes having a budget is the absolute best way to not only keep track of where your money goes but also hopefully prevent you from overspending in the future. Not coincidentally the first step of creating a new budget is to look carefully at your statements and figure out where your money is being spent now. You’ll then want to break your spending down into categories such as food, clothes, entertainment, gas, etc.

Depending on your situation you could even add more specific categories that include certain hobbies you may have or perhaps you can nix that “gas” category and replace it with “transit” if you don’t have a car. Additionally, while some budgeters might include meals out under the “food” category, others might place it under “entertainment” and that’s OK. It doesn’t really matter how you arrange your budget as long as you account for essentials (rent, utilities, etc.) and savings (retirement, emergency funds, etc.). In fact a good rule of thumb is that essentials should make up no more than 50% of your budget while savings should account for no less than 20% — the other 30% is up to you.

Track your spending (with apps or envelopes)

Today there are a number of personal finance apps that can help you set up a digital version of your budget. Apps like Mint will then allow you to categorize your transactions and so you can be sure that you’re sticking to your plan. Alternatively, if this high-tech method doesn’t quite cut it for you, you can go old school and use the envelopes system. This can be helpful because, since you’re using cash, it’s much easier to physically see your money vanishing, which may get you to start second guessing some of your purchases.

Keep a master list of all of your subscriptions

How many times have you signed up for a trial or subscription on your credit card only to forget about it soon after? Whether you intend on keep your subscription after the trial period or not, it’s a good idea to keep a list of all of your subscriptions — whether to streaming services like Netflix or Spotify, educational sites like Lumosity or Rosetta Stone, or even financial monitoring services — and which card they’re associated with. If you really want to be organized you could also create a spreadsheet with this information including the price of each payment and what day of the month the transaction typically posts on. This will help you plan ahead when looking at your balance, as well as keep an eye out for increased prices that might affect your subscription down the road.

Your spending shouldn’t be a mystery. It’s important that you know where your money is going and so you don’t get caught off guard. By creating a budget, tracking your spending, and keeping a list of all of your subscriptions you can help stop balance shock once and for all.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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