Track Spending

Written by Sarah Provost
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There are several ways in which you can use your computer to help you track spending. You can set up an online budget, pay your bills online, or best of all, link the two functions. In this way, you will have an automatic record of all your expenses, divided into categories.

Here's how the linked system works. You choose a budget program that fits your needs, whether you want to keep it as simple as possible, want information presented graphically, or like the intuitive ease of the envelope system. Once you've set up your spending categories and subcategories, you make a list of all your creditors. This system allows you to link your creditors to your budget, so that you not only have the ease of online payment of bills, but the amounts are automatically entered in the appropriate place in your budget.

After you track spending for a couple of months, you'll have a clear and accurate picture of where your money is going. Then you can make decisions about your spending and set priorities. Perhaps you've been saving for a vacation, but notice that you're spending over your budget for car repairs. In such a case, it might be a good idea to start saving for a new car instead.

Track Spending to Make Tax Prep Easier

One of the most useful reasons to track spending online is that at year's end you will have a record of all expenses in particular categories. If, like me, you are self-employed, own your own business or telecommute, this system will make your life a whole lot easier. Set up categories for each of your tax-deductible expenses, such as office supplies, postage, and equipment. The linked system will automatically record all your purchases in each category, so you no longer have to try to keep track of hundreds of paper receipts.

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