When you don’t actively track your spending, it’s easy to lose sight of where your money is going. And this could have negative repercussions on your overall financial situation no matter what your current standing is. If you have debt, spending too much can dig you further into the hole, and if even you don’t, spending more than you should can make it harder for you to reach other goals, such as saving for a down payment on a home or your retirement.
Here are a few signs you are spending more than you thought.
You Make Mindless App Purchases
It’s easy to spend when apps and websites make it so seamless to make purchases.
“The ‘dangerous’ expenses are any apps/sites where you don’t ‘feel’ or ‘see’ the expense,” said Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP, founder of Live, Learn, Plan in Mississippi. “The two most common would be Amazon and DoorDash. If you really want to shock yourself, add up all of your spending on apps. Each year I take the time to look at where my money went and Amazon always shocks me. For many others, it is dining out or even in-app purchases within games and the like.”
To make sure you’re not spending too much on impulse Amazon purchases and delivery orders, Zigmont recommends removing your credit card information from these apps.
“Move to a pre-paid debit card,” he said. “At the beginning of each month, you determine your budget, i.e. $100 for Amazon purchases. You then add $100 to that pre-paid debit card, and it is the only one listed on your Amazon account. When you run out, you have to wait until next month to refill. In this way, it prevents mindless spending.”
You Don’t Keep Track of Your Subscriptions
Most subscription services automatically charge you each month, so it’s easy to lose track of how much you are spending on streaming services, gym memberships and other subscriptions.
“We sign up for new apps or programs based on a free trial, whether iTunes or Android. The trial period ends, we don’t think about it and several months of $1 here, $3.49 there, and before we realize it they add up,” said financial coach Roxanne Langley. “Check your subscriptions to see what you are currently billed each month. If you don’t recognize or use the app/service, delete and stop the automatic payments.”
You Spend More Than You Should on Food
Yes, food is a necessity, but it’s easy to go overboard with your food spending and not even be aware of it.
“Food is an expense that we tend to not think about in terms of the monthly total spent,” Langley said. “It is something I look at as often as possible throughout the month. Fast food, supermarkets and restaurants add up quicker than we realize. Whether I’m working with a family or single person, we always take the last two months of bank and/or credit card statements to determine how much is actually spent on ‘food.’ This way you can adjust your spending plan for upcoming months and become more aware of how many extras we add each month.”
You Pay For Most Things in Cash
There are definitely advantages to paying with cash, as this prevents you from spending more money than you actually have and stops you from racking up credit card debt. But paying with cash can be a double-edged sword.
“The area of spending that I think people are the most mindless about is cash expenses,” said Sallie Mullins Thompson, principal and managing member at Sallie Mullins Thompson, CPA PLLC. “They get cash from the ATM and several days later have no idea how they spent it.”
When you pay with a debit or credit card, it’s easier to see how you’re spending your money.
“I recommend saving receipts for two to three months to track where the cash goes,” Mullins Thompson said.
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