The ability to track spending is the backbone of budgeting for both people and businesses. Major purchases are obvious, but the slow bleed of small, but steady purchases are the bane of budgets. Luckily, there are things you can do and steps you can take to remove the headaches from smart budgeting. These are called "life hacks" by do-it-yourselfers; good habits that make it easy to track spending.
Mint.com can help you track spending - the first step to healthy finances.
Get the Right Software
Financial software should, first and foremost, make it easy to track spending. Free software such as Mint.com is available across all devices and takes the labor out of keeping your money straight. It automatically calculates income and expenditures, links to outside bank and credit accounts, and presents the data in clear, easy-to-read graphs and charts.
Record as You Go
When someone cooks a big dinner, there's a huge pile of dirty dishes and pots and pans to clean in a full sink and a dirty counter, unless the chef followed the cardinal rule of cooking: clean as you go. The same rule applies to the way you track spending. If you wait to log your receipts, your expenditures, and your purchases, you'll wind up with a huge, daunting pile that is that much easier to put off. When you buy a new bike tire, log it right away. Mint makes this super easy with mobile apps that follow you everywhere and contain the full functionality of the website.
Tag Your Purchases
Mint's tagging feature makes the all-important step of categorizing individual purchases easy, but it also lets you split and separate large purchases into their own categories. If you go to the drugstore and buy scissors, light bulbs and aspirin, use Mint to add the first two to your hardware expenditures and the third into your home medicine category. With Mint's tagging feature, spending is easier to track.
Mint offers free, customized updates for anyone on the account. They offer free enrollment for either email or text messages (no smartphone, that's fine, they'll send via SMS). Take them up on the offer. Taking the onus off of yourself to check how you're doing not only saves time but keeps your money on your mind.
The right software can help you track every dollar.
If you want to keep your finances straight, you must track spending first. Get good software, make sure every purchase has a category and -- whatever you do -- log as you go, instead of letting receipts pile up!
Mint.com offers free, fully functional, mobile software that makes it easy to track spending. Sign up today and enjoy a range of features that integrate totally with your bank and credit accounts.
Photo credit: Flickr user 401(k)2012.