Do You Know Where Your Money Goes?

Oct 1, 2015 Blog  How To Save , Money , Personal Finance , Savings , Tips

How to save money and keep track of your finances

Money! We spend half of our lives trying to make it. But once you’ve got it, do you know how to hold on to it?

Learning how to keep track of your personal finances is not something that they teach you in school – but it’s a life skill everyone needs to learn. Who hasn’t been in the situation where the end of the month has approached and they can’t understand why they’ve got so little budget left? Or tried to save for something, only to find that there’s precious little going into the savings account each month?

Part of the problem is that in the modern day and age most payments are done via card. And it’s much easier to ignore your bank statement than the dwindling pile of cash in your wallet.

So – how can we take steps to make sure that we’re in control of our money?

1. Keep track of your spending
Easier said than done, right? We all think that we have a fairly good grasp of what we’re spending on a day-to-day, week-to-week or even month-to-month basis; but are you certain? While a sandwich here, a fizzy drink there and the odd coffee on your way to work might not seem like a big expense, the cumulative costs can make a massive dent in your budget.

So, try keeping a diary of what you spend money on each day, you could even use a budget tracker app, like XXXXXXX. After a few days you will be able to see where your money is going, and if there are things that you could cut back on to save yourself a few Rand. It can be amazing how much the little things add up.

2. Keep to your budget
No big surprise here.

Once you’ve got a better idea of where your money is going you’ll be better able to plan a realistic budget. We all know how to save money, but sometimes we set ourselves budgets we can’t really keep to – and once you’ve broken your budget rules once, you’re more likely to abandon it altogether.

Make sure your budget covers all of the necessities. Food, drink, bills, household goods, travel… It’s always a good idea to leave a little aside in case you have an unexpected expense as well; it gives you some leeway. So, if you haven’t spent your emergency expense stash at the end of the month you have the option to treat yourself, or add it to your savings.

3. Keep track of your bank balance
Don’t be afraid to check your bank balance. Saving money and keeping to budgets is all about having control over your finances. If you’re too frightened to look at the numbers, you’re not going to get far.

Services like Barclays Text Alerts [see if this service is available in SA] send you messages when the balance in your account changes; if you’ve had an increase in credit or an increase in debit. It also texts you your weekly balance – so you always know how you’re doing.

4. Set yourself a target
If you’re just trying to cut down the amount you spend each month then set yourself a target for how much you want to reduce your spending by each week. That way you have smaller, more achievable goals that should add up to a bigger total.

If you’re saving for something in particular – set yourself a date. This way you can see how much you need to save each month to achieve it. Plus, knowing you’ve got a deadline can be a great motivator.

Sometimes, just having a fixed target in mind can help you be smarter about saving money.

5. Communicate
The last thing you want is for saving money to cause problems between yourself and your loved ones. If you have a family or a partner, be sure to sit down and discuss your budget with them. They may have input to make – are you forgetting about certain expenses? Do they understand that you might not be able to do all of the things you did before, now that you’re saving money? This will save a lot of tension and confusion later on

If you follow our advice you should be in a great position to start saving. But life isn’t always straightforward. So if you do slip-up occasionally, or find that there were expenses you hadn’t accounted for – don’t be too hard on yourself. Just make sure that you keep on trying, and remain committed to your budget, and taking control of your finances.

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