Do you ever wonder where all your money went? Even if you’ve only asked yourself this question rhetorically, it’s worth the time to find the answer.

Our spending habits – and perhaps, the consumer culture in general – often inhibit our ability to see the total cost of our expenses: the actual price of a cup of coffee becomes less relevant when we can just hand over a credit card instead of counting cash; loans focus our attention on monthly payments, not interest rates and total amount paid.

You may be surprised by how much money you spend every month. Mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities, debt and loan payments, commuting costs, insurance, taxes – and these are just the things you need to pay. The regular meal out; the occasional shopping trip, movie, or game; the impromptu emergency: all these things add up and we still haven’t considered tithing and savings.

Counting the number of expenses you have can be sobering, let alone calculating the cost of it all. But tracking your expenses and knowing where all your money goes is an important part of money management. You can start by monitoring your spending for a month or, if you have sufficient account statements, bills, and receipts, you can review your spending from a previous month.

Once you have a list of your expenses, compare the costs to your monthly income. Start with the necessary expenses like groceries, rent, and utilities. Subtract these from your income: how much money do you have left for the things you want? Now subtract the costs of the things you purchased but didn’t need: dining out, gym memberships, etc. How much of your income is left? A lot? A little? Zero? Are you in the negative?

Regardless of whether this exercise leaves you feeling good or bad, knowing where all your money is going every month can help you make adjustments and improve your financial situation. You can use the information to regularly assess the cost of your expenses (is your rent too high?) develop financial goals that will have a positive impact on your finances (such as cutting or eliminating debt) and increase the amount of money you can save every month.

Covenant Trust Company is a financial services company owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and its affiliates. Our services are available to anyone in need of asset management, retirement planning, legacy planning, gift planning, or trust services. In addition, we seek opportunities to encourage and promote healthy financial habits, and keep a personal finance blog at www.covtrustblog.com.

 

 

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