You get paid, and you’re feeling great. You pay some bills, you buy a few groceries, the weekend hits, and you go out. Or, maybe with that flush bank account, now seems the right time to purchase something you’ve been eyeing on Amazon. Then you realize you didn’t pay the electric bill yet — but your account is empty. Suddenly you’re asking yourself, “Where does all my money go?”
The fear and stress around the situation I just described isn’t fun. So why not commit right now to getting to a place where you can stop asking yourself this question? Stop, and take a good hard look at what you’re spending on and where you can cut back.
Before we dive in, I want you to know you’re not alone. Most people are trapped in a cycle of spending more than they make each month. Without monitoring expenses, these families continue to fall further and further behind.
Tracking your money
Taking the necessary step of tracking your expenses can be a challenge. But I promise this step will get easier over time. And when you analyze the results, you might be surprised at how much you spend on stuff you don’t need. You might easily find areas where you can cut back.
Here’s a preview, based on country-wide averages, of what you might find and recommendations for how to reduce non-essential spending, and stop asking, “Where does all my money go?”
After covering essential expenses like housing, transportation and food, entertainment is the top area of spending for most families. Everyone needs fun in their life. Remember, MindShift.money isn’t designed to tell you what to spend on after you Pay Yourself First. But using entertainment as a way to lift your spirits in the short-term will ultimately prevent you from becoming Financially Fit.
Staying focused on your goal of Financial Freedom will yield a much bigger payoff than a one weekend mini-break or a new television you don’t actually need. You may even be able to tweak the circumstances a little so that you satisfy both your needs and your wants. Rather than buy an e-book, use Overdrive to borrow one from the library. Buying a used (new-to-you!) video game can be just as much fun as the latest release. And with the right ingredients a celebratory meal at home can be just as special as going out!
Clothing is another top area where quite a bit of money is spent annually. Allocating a certain amount of money to purchase essential clothes is different than heading to the shops and purchasing the latest and greatest fashions every month. When deciding on your monthly spend, set aside an amount for clothing, and don’t exceed that amount! Depending on how you need to dress for work, you may need to budget a little more or less. But remember your priority today is your Financial Fitness — not the hottest trends!
Many consider personal services essential, but personal care is actually a great area to target for saving money, cutting back or cutting out completely. You should always look your best at work, but unless your job is dependent on your appearance, you probably don’t need to spend a significant amount on grooming. Many high-end personal care products can be easily substituted for generic brands. Purchasing online or in bulk is also a great way to cut costs.
Reducing expenses in these top flexible spending areas will get you to a place where you’ll never again wonder, “Where does all my money go?” And putting that money toward your financial future will get you to Financial Freedom more quickly. Once you’re enjoying your Financially Fit life, the sacrifices now will be all the more worth it!