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Maintain a Spending Diary

Have you heard of a spending diary before? Basically, it is a journal where you record all your purchases on a daily basis. This includes cash, debit, and credit card purchases. Not only do you write down what amount you spent, but you also record what you spent the money on. In order for this to be an effective budgeting strategy, you must be sure to keep up the habit for at least a month. Are you ready for the challenge?

Here are three ways that maintaining a spending journal will help you have a more beneficial financial picture:

Maintaining a Spending Diary Will Help You Spend Less Money

Among the many benefits of maintaining a spending diary is getting a better understanding of exactly what your spending habits are. Once you can see exactly where your money is going, you can then begin to spot negative trends and make changes to your behavior in order to spend less.

Maintaining a Spending Diary Will Help You Save More Money

Do you have a plan to retire someday, or work to pay off your mortgage ahead of time? Maybe take a dream vacation with friends or family? If you want to reach your financial goals, you need to do some aggressive saving.

By keeping a spending journal, you can more easily identify ways that you can save more and reach your goals faster.

How to Create a Spending Diary

Now that you know the many benefits of maintaining a spending diary, here’s how to create one: Choose a simple notebook to keep your daily transactions in. You should keep your receipts, so consider choosing a 5-subject notebook with pockets where you can store them in. There are two columns you should create in order to best track your spending. In the first, create these columns for a “Daily Record of Spending”:

  • Day
  • Item Bought
  • Cost of Item
  • Method of Payment

The best way to benefit from a spending diary is to keep it for at least a month so you can get a fuller picture of what you’re spending. Then, you can figure out ways to begin cutting back on non-essentials. Once you’ve done this for a full month, add up your totals for each category you’ve spent the most money on, such as food, entertainment, and gas, then list them. In the second list, create these columns for a “Record of Spending Under Each Category”:

  • Category
  • Total Amount Spent for (Month)

Next, you’ll divide the total amount by the number of days you kept the diary to get a daily amount. Then, multiply it by 365 to get an annual total. Finally, divide it by 12 to get a monthly amount for each category that you spend on average. Once you’re done this for a few months, you can begin to more effectively manage your money, create a working budget and keep a close tabs on exactly where your money is going.

Another Way to Spend Less and Save More

Perhaps things are a little tough right now and you’re not prepared to start the process of tracking your money. The first step toward creating your spending diary will be to get current with your bills and start with a clean slate at the beginning of the month. One of the fastest ways to get the money you need today is with a cash advance, which is also known as a payday loan.

For eligible individuals, you could get up to $550 in as little as 30 minutes, even if you have bad credit. Using this short-term strategy, you could get the extra cash you need between paychecks.

And that brings us back to the importance of documenting your spending. Running out of cash between paychecks is common for individuals who do not adhere to at least a basic budget, and when one hand doesn’t know what the other one is spending on, the eventuality of falling behind is almost certain.