Monday, September 29, 2008

Where does the money go?

At some point during all of our lives we wonder where our money is going. Even more frequent is when our spouse might ask, "how much was that video game" or "why are you mad? it was only $260 for a pair of shoes and they were 30% off!" Such is being married and not knowing where the money is going.

I like most other middle class people am struggling. In today's world with expenses rising and income never seeming to catch up I worry about paying the mortgage, credit card bills and even the cable guy. However, like everything, knowledge is power.

But where do you get this knowledge? How do you find ways to track your spending and where your income is going? There are a multitude of online budget websites and tracking programs that can overwhelm and leave us with little to no motivation to answer our questions. In the great expanse of tools, two that I have begun to use and enjoy are as follows:
  • - is an amazing online resource of visual aides and tools. Mint categorizes your expenses for you and tracks your spending. By inputing your login information for your various accounts, it will update periodically and everytime you login to provide you with a spending history. I personally use and have found it to be extremely useful.

  • - PearBudget is a downloadable spreadsheet that tracks your spending. Simply set up your monthly expenses and your proposed budget amount and PearBudget will populate monthly schedules for you to track your spending. Entering your receipts at the end of the week will update the spreadsheet to reflect how your are aligning with your budget and where you need to address your spending. Like, I use this spreadsheet as well. As an accountant, spreadsheets are a personal passion so using this is fun for me.

After tracking your spending, get to know where you overspend. has a wonderful tool that allows you to compare to other people in your city or state to see how you stack up. Once you have an idea for how much you want to spend, stick to your goals and continue to track your spending.

Knowing where you are spending money and what spending habits you have is only half the battle! Adjusting those habits requires time and effort.

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