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MONEY HABITS

4 simple ways to keep track of your spending

22 November 2018

Have you ever looked at your bank account (especially close to pay day) and wondered where all your money has disappeared to? Spending money is pretty easy to do – even if it's just on little things like a coffee here or a small snack there, it can all add up.

That's where money management comes in. It might not sound like the most interesting thing, but if you want to get better at your finances, save towards a goal, or simply stop putting your account in the red every month, it can be a really useful habit to adopt.

Want some tips to help get your money management on track? Well close those online shopping tabs and read on, instead.

Managing your money

You can read hundreds of articles talking about the tried and true ways to manage finances, but, really, it all boils down to figuring out what will work for you. It might be time to step back and ask yourself some questions, like "what do I currently spend money on?" and "how do I currently track spending?"

[orange pull quote] [centre] You can read hundreds of articles talking about ways to manage finances, but, really, it all boils down to figuring out what will work for you.

Here are 4 tips to get you started:

1. Categorise your expenses

Do you know if you've been splurging this month? And in which areas? To keep tabs on your spending, you can set up your own categories for each transaction that you bank on some great mobile apps. From transport and groceries, to business expenses and bills, it becomes easier to automatically categorise all your transactions as you make them, so that you can get a better idea of what you're spending money on.

In the Suncorp App, the ‘Dollar Tracker' tracks and categorises connected Suncorp Bank account transactions for you automatically, organising your spending into 14 expense categories, like food, utilities and entertainment. It also offers insights into your spending habits and helps guide your money choices.

Download the Suncorp App

2. Consider having multiple bank accounts or sub-accounts

A great way to track your money is to have multiple bank accounts. It comes in handy, especially when you want to meet your financial goals. Whether your goal is to pay off your car or you're saving for a trip-of-a-lifetime, the old saying rings true: ‘out of sight, out of mind'.

Let's suppose that you have an everyday account and a savings account with the same bank. Your pay is deposited in your everyday account and any remaining funds (after bills and utilities) goes into your savings account. There's a problem. If you have multiple financial goals, then keeping most of your savings in one account may get confusing. What's it for? Is it for your emergency fund, a holiday fund or a child's tuition fees?

While one bank account might work for some people, for others it can be tempting to feed into another – like an unexpected Friday night splurge on dinner. With multiple financial accounts, however, you can separate your money into specific accounts - like an account for an emergency fund, a house deposit or any other financial goal you have.

Suncorp offers an account called the Everyday Options Account which lets you create up to 9 sub-accounts to help manage your savings goals.

You can also set up a direct debit to transfer a portion of your pay check to each of your bank accounts, so you don't need to worry about constantly checking them. Depending on what works for you, you could try splitting it up based on a percentage of your total pay check.

3. Know your spending limits and stick to them

It's easy to set yourself an arbitrary figure on what you're going to spend and save in a week, but it's much harder to stick to it. This is where having an overall budget comes into play. If you set a realistic budget, it's much easier to give yourself a spending limit that you can stick to.

For example, if you're allocating $100 dollars to groceries this week – is that realistic? If it's not, ensure that you don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself and examine what is actually doable. Take the time towards the end of the month to adjust next month's budget and make improvements. Watch your spending habits and remember it's not going to perfect every time.

Try Suncorp's free online Budget Planner Calculator

4. Maintain your financial relationships

This might not come as much of a surprise, but having strong relationships with your financial advisors – i.e. accountants, wealth managers, mortgage brokers, and property managers – can go a long way. These professions can provide great benefits, especially if you need clarity around what can seem like a deeply complicated world of data and numbers.

Tracking your spending doesn't have to be difficult. It might take a bit of additional effort, but the positive effect in can have on your achieving your saving goals, getting on top of paying your bills, and simply alleviating some stress around money are all worthwhile rewards.

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Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.

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