Consumer Tip of the Day: Track Spending

Tips for getting a handle on your cash

The top way to stay in control of your money is to develop and stick to a budget (also known as a spending plan). The simplest way to start your budget is to carry a notebook with you and jot down everything you purchase for at least one month—even that pack of gum.

You’d be surprised to see how small purchases can add up and eat away at your hard-earned cash over time. If you’re not into old-fashioned pen and paper, you can use tools like Mint.com or Buxfer.

Once you get a clear picture of how much money you’ve been wasting, take that cash and set it aside in a savings account. I once tried an experiment where I stopped buying coffee for one month and started bringing homemade coffee to work. Every day, I would put the money I would have spent on coffee in a jar. It helped to get a visual idea of what I had been spending on coffee each day. That motivated me to cut back on my coffee purchases and really think about how much I was spending.

So go ahead and start tracking your spending for one month. Let us know how it goes!

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