Knowing where your money goes is a pretty broad topic. You can easily say you know where your money goes. Your mortgage payment is a certain amount, your cable/internet bill is a certain amount, you pay a certain amount for groceries, and the list goes on.

The first step to achieving your financial goals is having a good handle on how much you are bringing in, how much is going out and how much you are leaving on the table. Tracking your expenses can help you eliminate bad spending habits and put more money back in your wallet.

Are you leaving money on the table? When you pay your cell phone bill, for instance, do you actually look at the bill? It’s very easy to say, I just don’t have time to look at every bill, and you don’t have to all the time. But you should periodically make the time to audit your providers.  This is a good way to make sure you are getting the most for your money. Are you being charged fees that don’t make sense? Maybe a different type of plan is better suited for you than the one you are in. Can you negotiate a lower rate? These are all things to keep in mind.
Don’t just look at the bills you pay regularly, look at your shopping bills too. Are you getting items you purchased at the accurate price? Are coupons or sales being applied? While a few dollars here and a few dollars there doesn’t seem like a big deal, over time it can add up.

Monitoring your finances will help identify fraud too. Keep an eye on your accounts for purchases that you didn’t make, no matter how small. Check your credit report yearly too. We have more tips on banking safely available here.

Once you know where your money is going and how you can save on what you are already spending, creating a budget becomes so much easier. Before you know it, you will be on the road to financial success.