It’s the start of a new year. A time for resolutions, goal-setting, reflection of the last 12 months and a fresh start.
Financially, it can be a very depressing time. The holidays are over and now you must face the harsh reality of your generosity over the gift-giving season. That said, receiving your January credit card statement should not be an anxious experience. In actuality, your credit card statements are excellent budgeting tools that not enough people use to their advantage.
As a married father of 3 young children, knowing where my money goes is of the utmost importance. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed and savings to be made – the bare necessities. But, what about everything else? Why can it feel like there never is enough money to do everything we want to do. If you have ever asked yourself that question, don’t worry, you are not alone.
In my experience, most of the young families I work with have no idea what they spend annually or even monthly. Money comes in and money goes out. If heads are above water at the end of the year, then it’s a success. If only there was a tool that easily tracked financial transactions for you.
Look no further than your online statements (i.e. credit cards; bank accounts; etc.). Financial institutions’ websites are getting increasingly more user-friendly. You can have information at your fingertips at anytime. Most, if not all, financial institutions provide year-end data that can be downloaded into many different programs. I still prefer excel.
Use these programs to categorize your expenses and get a real sense of where your money is going. Even if cash flow is not an issue for you, the exercise of reviewing expenses can still be very beneficial. Bad situations can become good, and good situations can become great.
Set aside a few hours to go through the exercise. I can guarantee it will be eye-opening.