Review your spending and set priorities to start the process of budgeting.

You need to find out where your money is going in order to discover opportunities in which you can save money or where you can adjust your expenses. There are many ways to do this, but it is very important to know where your cash is going...what bills and living expenses are being paid for in your daily life. It is a form of budgeting.

First, make a list of all your recurring monthly bills, expenses, and obligations. This can be as simple as it sounds. List all of your recurring bills on a computer, in a notebook, or just somewhere that you will look at them. Recurring bills would be food, medical, rent, car payments or insurance or mortgage, etc...those bills you pay every month and need to continue to pay. These tend to be bigger dollar amounts as well as higher prioirty outlays.

Next, list all the non-recurring bills you are paying. These tend to be some of the bills you have for items on your credit cards (get detailed with the specific expense), gas, a debit card, etc. These can be entertainment type expenses, or items that may be more considered “nice to have”.

Review your statements to get this information. Look at your credit card statements or bank statements. You need to capture all expenses. There are some tools that will help you with this budgeting process, whether commercial software like Turbotax or even budgeting apps on your smartphone.

These lists will help you organize everything on paper as well as in your mind so you can understand where your money is going. This is a key in who to determine how to save and how to get help doing this. It will help you understand if/where to cut back. Also, learn how to set spending priorities.

Also, keep all of the monthly records of your bills in one place. Get a bill organizer, folder, or bag to store your paid, written bills. Or, as noted, use software or an app on your phone or computer. This is another great way to keep the history of what you are spending. Organize them according to date, and keep the organizer or folder in a very prominent place, but where no one will move it.

In addition to helping you monitor your expenses and hopefully allow you to see where you can cut some expenses in order to save a few dollars, the truth is that sometimes companies will make mistakes and they might lose your check or a payment, or overcharge you. For example, Medical bills are notorious for being inaccurate, and a study by Harvard showed that about 90% of medical bills have at least one error. Other companies and creditors can make errors as well. This review of your spending will help ensure you have the record of the bill being paid and that you do not need to pay for any fees.

 

 

By Jon McNamara

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