OK, so you got yourself in debt. If you are going to get out of it, you have to do some things differently than you did before. Perhaps one of those things is to track your spending.
Write it Down
The “old-fashioned” way might be the best way to track your spending. All you need is a piece of paper and your favorite pen or pencil. At the end of each day, write down every purchase you made.
After tracking your spending for 30 days, you should have an accurate estimate of how much you spend in a regular month. Take a few minutes to categorize your spending so you know how much you will spend for your utilities, cell phone, cable tv, savings, and dining. You might even catch yourself asking, “We spend that much?”
If you want to upgrade to the 21st century, you can also make a free spreadsheet with Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. Both programs also offer premade templates that are free to use and are already built to track your spending. All you must do is choose the style you like best.
Google Sheets might be the better option for making your own spreadsheet because it’s free, and you can update data with any device that has an internet connection. Microsoft Excel has more capabilities but, you must have Microsoft Office installed to use Excel which can cost $70 a year to install on one device.
Personal Capital is probably the most user-friendly app when it comes to tracking your spending and calculating your net worth. In a matter of seconds, you can connect your bank and investment accounts. You can also manually input information including the value of your house, cars, and any cash spending you do on a monthly basis.
After linking your accounts, Personal Capital will track your spending and income in real-time. They present all their information in easy-to-read graphs, will send email weekly spending reports, and, you can even create savings goals to calculate how much money you need to set aside every month to accomplish your financial dreams.
Another reason I like Personal Capital is that they don’t make their money from credit card, bank account, or loan applications. Yes, you can pay Personal Capital to invest for retirement, but, this service is optional and their financial monitoring tools are completely free!
Exact Finance is a brand-new free money management tool that will be launching in the very near future. You can expect Exact to be a mixture between Personal Capital and Mint in terms of capability. Your transactions from your linked financial accounts will upload to Exact and you will be able to access reports that track your spending and saving history.
The real value in Exact can be the ability to project your future spending and saving trends. If you want to get out of debt and want a plan, Exact makes it possible to exactly predict how soon you will repay a specific loan (or all your loans) based on your current financial habits. Exact also lets you enter hypothetical variables to see how an increased savings rate or salary increase, as two examples, can affect your debt payoff plans.
Wally is a 100% mobile-based app and is only accessible through your iOS or Android cell phone or tablet. Since more households are increasingly ditching their desktops and laptops, the mobile device requirement might not be a restriction. Here are four reasons you might choose Wally:
- Compare your income to expenses
- Create a spending and savings goals
- Snap pictures of receipts to remember “why” you made a purchase
- No in-app advertisements
Wally is potentially the most comprehensive app available if you want the “complete picture” of how you spend your money. The ability to take pictures of your receipts is also a nice touch as we have all had to scratch our head from time-to-time after looking at our credit card or debit card statement a month later and trying to remember what we purchased.
To improve your financial quality of life, you might not know how to take the first step. Tracking your spending is an excellent starting place, and several excellent programs let you begin your journey to financial freedom FOR FREE! Since there are several free apps to choose from, you should have no problem finding one that makes improving your financial situation enjoyable and possible.
Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida. For more information, go to our web site www.BankruptcyforTampa.com or call 727-335-7151.