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Why make a budget if you don’t know what you’re spending your money on in the first place? ┬áThe next few posts will focus on some steps you can take to systematically control your money.

Since most everyone has access to their bank account online, login to your account and download your last month’s transactions into a spreadsheet or .csv file.

What you’re going to do is sort your transactions by where you spent the money. If you don’t know how to sort, simply select the help button on your spreadsheet or you can look up, “How to sort transactions” in your favorite search engine.

Once you’ve sorted your tranactions, you can then add up the totals to see how much you spend with a particular store or company. So, if you go to a particular grocery store alot, you can get a pretty good guess at how much you spend on groceries, rent/mortgage and other bills.

What if you do most of your spending with cash? Well, gather all the reciepts you have ONLY for the last month or last 30 days. Separate them by the store and then add up the total spent.

Look at the totals you spend for your basic needs: food, clothes, shelter (rent and utility bills), and transportation and any related insurance.

Ask yourself,” Am I pleased with what I see?” “Am I enjoying what I am receiving in exchange for what I pay?”

If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no, then, start looking for lower cost alternatives. Do you have coupons or discounts available you could use? Are you paying for a subscription for something you haven’t used in a long time and don’t plan on using in the near future? Cancel it.

You want to get yourself to a position where you are only paying for goods and services that serve you to your satisfaction.

So, what unsatisfactory spending will you cut so that you can save more and do more of what you enjoy?

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