When it comes to managing your finances, you're bound to hear somebody tell you to keep track of your spending and the balance on each of your accounts. Although this might sound simple, it's easy to get lost along the way. With the increasing demands of everyday life, it can be tough to remember exactly where and when you swiped your card.
Similarly, if you have more than one card, it's even trickier. Here are som important tips to help you keep track:
When you apply for a credit card, you should always ask your bank about online services. If you already have one or more credit cards and you've never asked about online banking, this is the perfect time to do so. Your bank should at least allow you to check your transactions within a few clicks. Some banks even offer tools for budgeting, setting up alerts, mapping, and more.
Additional banking services
Banking services have come a long way over the past few years. These services allow you to track transactions, manage your spending and more. Some banks offer additional perks like a mobile app as well as 24-hour customer service and even lower fees. That said, some of these banks don't have any physical offices like those of more traditional banks. This means that everything is essentially done online and you don't have any face-to-face interactions with bank staff. Your money is also not physically held by the bank. Instead, it is held and managed by a silent partner bank. This silent partner ensures that all operations run smoothly.
For those who choose or cannot hold a bank account, prepaid cards are an option. These cards offer low fees, various tools for money management, and they are easy to use. Opening such an account means that the account holder will be provided with a debit card that can be used in-store or online. It's important to take not of all the fees associated with such an account before signing up. These fees can accumulate quickly. That said, because they are prepaid debit cards, there's no risk of overspending. You load as much as you need on the card and this can help you set your spending limit.
Financial management tools
Software for financial management
Before online banking was really an option, software was the best solution when it came to financial management. Although many programs no longer exist or are no longer favored, there are a handful on the market (like Quicken) that are worth considering. These tools are designed to analyze your savings, spending habits, and balances on your accounts. The only catch is that you need to provide the software with the data it requires. This approach is effective but requires a fair amount of time on a regular basis, and it can be tough for some to master. If you are completely against the idea of online banking, however, this really is your best bet.
If you enjoy working with numbers, then you might enjoy working on your own spreadsheets through Google Spreadsheets, Excel, or a similar program. You will need to physically maintain and monitor your spending by inputting data on a regular (preferably daily) basis. The only way to automate anything in this format is by downloading templates that have embedded macros. On a business level, this might not be the ideal approach. On a personal level, you need to be absolutely committed and pay attention to every little detail.
Put pen to paper
For those who are not a fan or not familiar with online banking and don't know their way around spreadsheets, the old-fashioned approach might just work. Keep a journal and write down all of your transactions as they happen or at least every evening before you call it a night. Keep a record of your running balance after every evening and don't forget to double or even triple check. It's easy to make a mistake when performing calculations manually.
A checkbook register is another old-fashioned method but quite effective. It's the physical reconciliation of your transactions each month that helps keep everything in check.
There is one easy trick to follow if you are trying to control your spending – start a monthly budget! There are a number of great examples available online which makes it even easier than ever before. Begin by setting out your fixed expenses and always over budget a little bit for items that could experience price fluctuations. Gas prices, for example, are known for rising unexpectedly. Therefore, it's a good idea to budget more rather than less. At the end of the month, if you have anything left over from your gas budget, you can always carry it forward for the next month or set it aside as savings.
With all of these helpful tips, there really is no reason to let those credit cards get out of hand! You can use just one of these methods or a few of them to help ensure that you never exceed your budget limits. Remember, when you need the best advice on Canadian credit cards, Wallet Savvy has comprehensive details on all the top cards in the country!