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Not Saving Enough? Consider Using a Spending Journal

Finances can be frustrating. While it may seem like a tedious task, keeping a budget can ease those frustrations. In fact, a budget can be the most important tool in your financial toolbox. Before you can budget, though, you need to know what you’re spending each month. That’s where a spending journal can help.

Tracking your spending is crucial to employing a strong budget strategy. Starting a spending journal can help you pinpoint areas where you can make changes that will allow you to eliminate bad habits and, ultimately, take control of your finances.

Whether you use an old-fashioned notebook or some electronic format, there’s no wrong way to keep a spending journal, as long as it includes your total income, your bills and all other daily expenses. You should also write down what you expect to spend each week, so you can compare your prediction with your results at the end of the week.

At the end of each month, you should analyze the overall data to determine if you are spending more than you’re earning, and if there are any expenses you can reduce or eliminate. Entertainment and impulse purchases may be the likeliest places where you can make cuts. Look closely at those expenses and how they would have made a difference on your finances had you instead put that money in savings or toward eliminating debt.

Keeping a spending journal for at least three months will give you an idea of how your expenses fluctuate from month to month. Once you’ve analyzed that data, you can start putting together a budget that will help you achieve your financial goals.


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