Let’s face it: culture today promotes wasteful spending. We are living in a society in which advertisements are thrown at us from every direction, candy is put near the registers in the grocery store, and new technology from our favorite brands is released every few months. Most people do not realize that the side purchases they make on a regular basis, those picked up as more of an afterthought, are truly affecting their bank accounts. There are two types of spending – purposeful and wasteful – and many people fall into a lot of wasteful spending without realizing it. Taking the time to track your finances can give you back control of your bank account, and make all of your spending purposeful.
In order to keep track of your finances, you must sit down and determine how much you have left over every month after expenses. Write down your total income per month, then subtract from it your fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses include things you pay for that do not change per month, such as rent, utilities, and a gym membership. Variable expenses are those with a fluctuating amount that you pay on a monthly basis, such as groceries, clothing, and eating out. You should devote a certain amount of money to each variable expense, and work each month to not go over that amount.
Next, I would suggest writing down your financial goals. These can be as specific as ‘I want to save X amount a month to pay off my debt’ and as vague as ‘I want to put a little away each month to go on vacation at some point.’ Whatever your goals are, they must exist to put a cap on the amount you spend each month.
Once you have your goals, it is time to start cutting unnecessary spending out of your monthly budget. Break up everything you spend money on into two categories – either completely necessary for survival, or nice to have. For example, rent and groceries are completely necessary for survival, so you must allot money to those two things each month. However, gym memberships and magazine subscriptions are not necessary to survival, and therefore should be removed from your monthly spending if they are having too much of an impact on your bank account.
Once you have completed all of the above, you are well on your way to being a purposeful spender. If you struggle to keep track of how much you spend each month, consider downloading a personal finance app on your phone. You will find that, once you really start tracking your finances, saving money is easy!