For many of us, just the word “finances” can be daunting. But you can help de-stress the process by employing a more active approach to your money. Tracking your withdrawals and deposits is one of the simplest steps to move toward healthier finances. Even for those in good financial standing, tracking expenses can help you better manage your money, weed out frivolous spending, and even catch banking errors and discrepancies.
Before the convenience of digital banking, many manually documented their income and expenditures as a way of tracking the money available to them. With the increasing prevalence of debit and credit cards, a large number of people have found this method unnecessary, as financial institutions automatically log transactions. However, there is always the chance for delays or processing errors. It can be easy to forget about a scheduled payment that processes later in the month, causing new problems when money you thought you had suddenly disappears, especially if you’re one of many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. By manually tracking all your spending and income as you go, you can create more peace of mind knowing you have the most up-to-date information at hand. You’ll also have the added benefit of having your own documentation to check against things like monthly bank statements for errors.
If you typically use a card payment method, it is easy to forget about transactions or fail to notice how quickly small purchases can add up, depleting your balance. Manually tracking expenditures allows you to take a closer look at your spending and really pay attention to where your money goes. It can help you spot poor spending habits, like impulse buys or unnecessary expenditures you may not even remember.
To help you get started, there are a large number of tools available. If you prefer a good, old fashioned pen and paper method, WalletHub has a simple, printable worksheet to track deposits and spending, available here. If you like digital methods, there are many mobile apps and online options that may work for you. Seniors can find a helpful list of some options here, with pros and cons taking into consideration concerns specific to your age group. Many more options can be found using your preferred online search engine.
Finally, if the concept of balancing your checkbook and reconciling bank statements is still new, foreign, or just plain overwhelming, WalletHub also has a How To Guide with step by step instructions, pictures, and more tips, found here. Just take it step by step and perhaps you’ll find yourself breathing a little easier when thoughts turn to your wallet.