Financial Ideas

Monitor Your Purchases for Better Financial Freedom

Have you experienced this scenario before?

Your bills are all paid, you’ve spent a little cash on a few things, then suddenly, at the end of the month, you find yourself in a deep financial rut with no clue how it happened.

Those little expenses add up, don’t they?

Two trips a day for premium coffee, a pile of new clothes, and before you know it you’ve racked up quite an expensive tab for yourself.

Now’s the time to trim down those spending habits before it gets out of control. A little more attention to detail is all that’s required to whip your budget into shape.

Track your spending habits with these handy tips for putting yourself back on the road to financial freedom:

1. Define the variables

There are certain expenses that don’t change much, like an internet bill, monthly gas for the car, or your mortgage payment. Your grocery bill is one that varies according to what you buy each month, however. Keep track of your month-to-month spending to be sure you’re comfortable with how much you’re spending.

  • It makes sense to plan meals for the coming week ahead of time, then make a grocery list and stick to it. You’ll be holding yourself accountable for those purchases, and you’ll minimize the impulse to spend more than you want to at the grocery store.
  • Entertainment expenses like on-demand movie purchases are another way to trim a fat budget. If your family likes to purchase films from your cable or satellite provider, create a specific amount in your budget, and stick to it. Three movies per month will usually cost around $15. But three impulsive movie purchases each week adds up to $60 per month or $720 per year.

2. Make use of your register

Making online payments for your bills is a luxury, but it sometimes leads to you losing track of how much money you sent to whom or how many items you’ve bought online recently.

Use your checkbook register to track all your payments and purchases, including the ones you make online.

  • Keep your register by your computer table at all times. It’s important to log every dollar you spend to get an accurate picture of your financial situation.

3. Avoid online shopping

If you’re making lots of spur-of-the-moment purchases on a specific online retailer’s website, refrain from using it so often. You can even use online tools to help minimize and track your online purchases, as a way to add more discipline to your spending habits.

  • LeechBlock is a free add-on program for the Firefox web browser. Basically, it allows you to block certain websites for a certain period of time. Using this helpful add-on and a little discipline, you could block for every day of the week except Wednesday, and only allow yourself 10 minutes to view their inventory of items.
  • Additionally, LeechBlock works well for hindering online gambling habits, visits to adult websites or to control the amount of time your children spend playing addictive games or visiting social media sites like Facebook. These are the types of restrictive measures that eventually put money back in your pocket.

4. Cash only

Another helpful tip for curbing spending habits is to leave credit cards at home when you leave the house to go shopping. Bring cash only.

If you’re planning on meeting a friend for lunch, bring only $30 cash to avoid any impulse purchases you might make and forget to track later.

  • If you’re concerned about emergency situations, keep $100 (out of sight) in your glove compartment. If you use this emergency cash fund for something else like a pair of shoes or a new hat, deduct the amount you spent from your petty cash allowance to encourage yourself to be more disciplined.

It makes no difference how much you earn. If you don’t monitor your purchases, you can find yourself in a financial hole that’s difficult to manage or rise above. This is one important reason to know where every penny goes each month, for your financial health.

Spend money wisely and track your spending habits to begin enjoying the financial freedom you want most.

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Let me know what you think in the comments below. And, feel free to share this with your teammates.

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