If you want to take charge of your finances, keeping track of your spending is a good place to start. The information you collect will help you identify opportunities to reduce your spending.

Choose a method

Online tools can make the process of tracking your spending completely automatic. For example, My Spending Report with Budget Watch automatically captures each deposit and every purchase and payment you make with your Wells Fargo credit cards, debit cards, checks, and online bill pay. This allows you to sort your expenses into familiar categories so that you have an accurate and current picture of where your money is going, without having to save receipts or key in transactions. You can establish your own spending and budget goals and track your progress over time.

 Tip 

Online tools can make the process of tracking your spending completely automatic.

Some individuals may be comfortable with lower-tech options such as recording expenses with a simple pencil and notebook or logging expenses into a spreadsheet program. Keep in mind that these manual options may make it more challenging to categorize expenses. They also cannot link automatically to the activity in your bank accounts.

If you choose to track your spending manually, get in the habit of consistently following a few basic practices:

  • Save receipts: Keeping your receipts is an excellent way to make sure you remember expenses during the day.
  • Use your card: Using a credit or debit card rather than cash for most of your purchases creates a documented record of your spending. But be careful not to let the convenience of paying with a credit card encourage you to spend more than you would otherwise spend with cash.
  • Update your records: At the end of the day, set aside a few minutes to update your records. Remember to include small cash purchases, such as coffee, bus fare, and snacks. Then, going online to check your account balances may help identify any forgotten transactions. Finally, subtract your expenses from your beginning balance to see how much you spent.
  • Review the results: Whether you track spending manually or use an automated tool such as My Spending Report, regularly make time to evaluate your spending history to identify trends. You may be surprised to discover how much you spent on luxury purchases, restaurant meals, or other incidentals. As you review the information, this can help you find opportunities to cut costs. 

By taking these steps, you will have a more accurate view of where your money is going.

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How often should you evaluate your spending to be able to identify trends?

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