10 Basic Steps

3 Do you know where you money goes? Be conscious about your spending.
Know Where Your Money Goes

Keep Track of Your Expenses

Gaining control of your financial situation and using money to help you reach your goals is possible, but first you must recognize where your money goes. Evaluate your habits. Start by jotting down everything you think you spend money on during a one-month period. Next, make a list of what you actually spend during that month. Be sure to write down everything you buy and how much it costs. Include rent, car insurance, groceries, and even small purchases such as coffee or snacks.

To help you track your monthly expenses, download the Tracking Your Expenses Worksheet.

Plug Spending Leaks

Now that you know exactly how you spend your money each month, you've probably noticed areas where small amounts of money are disappearing. Examples of spending leaks include buying expensive coffee drinks daily, eating lunch out every day, and making impulse purchases. While it may not seem like you're spending much at the time, these leaks can add up to quite a bit of money over a month or year.

Once you've identified your spending leaks, you can determine ways to plug them by making small changes in your habits. For example, if you're buying lunch at a restaurant or cafeteria every work day, you probably spend at least $5 each time. That adds up to $25 a week, $100 a month, and $1,200 a year. If you weren't spending this money on lunch, you could use it to help accomplish your life goals, such as paying for your child's education or your own retirement.

Make a plan for controlling unnecessary spending with the Plug Spending Leaks Worksheet.

SAM is completely free, unbiased, customizable, financial education.

How It Works

Contact Us

SAM Says Newsletter

SAM on-the-go!

Get twice weekly financial texts with tips and reminders sent directly to your mobile phone.

Thank you for signing up! Once a month, look for the latest edition of SAM Says in your email. SAM Says provides you with the tips and tools you need to stay on top of your financial wellness.

Thank you for signing up! Once a month, look for the latest edition of SAM Says in your email. SAM Says provides you with the tips and tools you need to stay on top of your financial wellness.

Resource Library

  • Search the database for hundreds of noncommercial guides and tools providing in-depth information on a variety of money management topics.


    Go to the Resource Library

Search Our Library

Resource Type:

Search

This Months Poll

© Copyright 2016 National Endowment for Financial Education. All rights reserved.
1331 17th Street, Suite 1200 • Denver, CO 80202 • 303-741-6333
Privacy Policy and Terms | Site Map