Managing Your Cash Flow — Step 1

Do you track your spending? Wondering how to start?

Tracking your spending is one of the most effective ways to get control of your money. I’ve been thinking about the ways that you can do this:

  • Keep receipts and record them, either electronically or on paper.
  • Use credit cards and/or debit cards for all purchases, then regularly record the amounts from your online statement.
  • Use an envelope/receipt system: Brainstorm a list of spending categories and write the names on separate envelopes. Or just keep one large envelope for all receipts. File your receipts in the correct envelope and add the amounts spent to keep a running total.

Can you think of other ways to track your spending? I’d be interested to hear about them.

Photo by MyName (Jnestorius (talk)) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We use a combination of receipts and credit card statements and record our monthly spending in a spreadsheet. (We don’t use our debit cards unless we absolutely have to, as our bank charges us a fee for using the card over a certain number of transactions each month). My husband likes to keep track of our grocery spending (somehow that tends to get out of control) as he is often responsible for doing the grocery shopping (I hate it!) He keeps those receipts and records the grocery spending. I will check the credit card statement every few days and record any other purchases.

Regardless of your method for recording your spending, writing it down and adding it up often leads to revelations. (Wow, look at how much we’re spending on ____________!) And that can be the beginning of other conversations about taking control of your spending.


3 thoughts on “Managing Your Cash Flow — Step 1

  1. Good advice, Chris. We have an app that shows every visa transaction immediately after purchase and, as visa is our principal mode of payment, we are able to, in a couple of minutes at the end of the day, enter the purchases into an excel ledger. Cash and debit cards account for less than 5% of our spending (it is accounted for in another column) and we pay our visa off in full every month. It wasn’t always this way. It works very well for us now.


    • Thanks for your comment, Pat! Only recently has our credit card app started showing purchases immediately after we make them. Before it was taking two to three days for them to show up. It has really helped keep closer track of our expenses!


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