Start The New Month With Fresh Budget Expectations And A Credit Card
Once your new budget is ready to go, start the new month with brand new budget expectations. This is also where your credit card comes in. Instead of using cash or debit, youll start putting all of your purchases on your credit card.
Then, at least once per week, you can log in to see where you stand with your new budget. How much have you spent on groceries so far? How much have you spent on entertainment? And more importantly, how much do you have left?
Pay your balance in full at least once or twice per month to stay on track and avoid paying interest. If you find yourself regularly cheating on your budget, one option that can keep you honest is to ask your card issuer to lower your credit limit to the amount you intend to charge each month. So if youve budgeted $1,200 for food, gas, entertainment, Internet, and cell phone all expenses you can charge lowering your credit limit to $1,200 can force you to stay within your budget.
Track Minimum Spending Requirements Using A Spreadsheet
Getting organized can help you stay on top of the minimum spending requirements. You could create a simple spreadsheet outlining:
- The card name
- The minimum-spend bonus available for each card
- Each card’s minimum spending requirement
- The deadline for meeting the minimum spending requirement
- How much youve spent so far
Subtract how much youve spent so far from the minimum requirement to find out how much you need to spend. Or log your purchases for each card in the sheet so you have a running total to compare against the minimum spending requirement.
Here’s a sample minimum spend tracking spreadsheet you can use to track expenses toward your minimum-spend goal. Download a copy for your own use.
Many cards wont count your annual fee, balance transfers, returned items, cash advances, interest, fees, or other credit-card elements toward your minimum spend. Check your terms and conditions or bonus offer documentation for eligible purchases to make sure youre spending wisely.
The Spreadsheet I Use To Track My Credit Cards
Strong organizational skills are essential to success in this game we play, and while useful apps like AwardWallet exist to help us log our points balances in various programs, theres really no better way to track your credit card portfolio than a good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet.
Over the years, many readers have emailed me to ask how I keep track of all the credit cards that I have open , and I received another flood of such questions after publishing last weeks post on my credit card application strategies.
I therefore thought Id share the spreadsheet I use to track my credit cards as a follow-up to that post, in order to help you stay organized as you conquer the many sweet signup bonuses out there.
, and read on below to find out exactly how it works.
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List All Of Your Expenses
When youre creating a budget for the first time, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with your actual monthly expenses. Start by listing everything you pay for on a monthly basis your mortgage or rent, car payments, food spending, insurance, utilities, etc. List all of the essentials, in addition to non-essentials, if you want your budget to work.
Heres where your credit card statement comes in handy it does a lot of this work for you. Make sure to include the little purchases you might have forgotten about.
Use Your Credit Card Company’s Mobile App
Just about every major credit card company has its own mobile app now. If you want to track your spending from your phone, you can download your card issuer’s app. Mobile apps generally offer the same services you get online, although features may be more limited.
The same warning about not using budgeting apps with public Wi-Fi applies here, since these apps carry the same security risks as mobile banking. Public Wi-Fi is not a secure connection. Hackers could view your activity and get their hands on your data. Only use your credit card company’s mobile app while connected to a trusted network, or with your mobile data.
If you’re looking for a way to track your credit card spending, these three methods are easy to do and work for anyone. Budgeting apps tend to be the simplest way to monitor everything, especially if you manage multiple credit cards. But credit card company websites and mobile apps are also good options.
Pick a method you’ll use consistently. What’s most important isn’t how you track your spending, but that you do it often so you don’t miss anything.
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How To Benefit From Expense Tracking
So, you’ve created a spreadsheet or downloaded an app to track your expenses. Now what do you do with all that data?
If you’re tracking your expenses to find areas where you may be able to cut back or add to your savings, the best use is as the foundation for a budget. Just like tracking your expenses, creating a budget can be done with paper and pencil, spreadsheets, online accounts or apps. To ensure you stick to your budget, adopt whatever budgeting method works for youthere’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Use The Mobile App Of Your Credit Card Company
Almost every major credit card company now has its own mobile app. If you want to track your spending from your phone, you can download the card issuers app. Mobile apps usually offer the same services as those found on the Internet, although the functions may be more limited.
The same warning about not using public Wi-Fi budgeting apps applies here, as these apps carry the same security risks as mobile banking. Public Wi-Fi is not a secure connection. Hackers can view your activity and retrieve your data. Only use the credit card company mobile app when connected to a trusted network or mobile data.
If youre looking for a way to track your credit card spending, these three methods are easy to use and work for everyone. Budgeting apps are usually the easiest way to control everything, especially if you manage multiple credit cards. But credit card company websites and mobile apps are also good options.
Choose a method that you will use consistently. The most important thing is not how you track your expenses, but the fact that you do it often so that you dont miss anything.
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Manage Your Credit Utilization Rate
This tip is all about managing your credit score. One of the factors that goes into calculating your credit score is your credit utilization rate. This is the amount of your credit cards spending limit you regularly use.
For example, if you have $6,000 in credit card debt but a credit limit of $20,000, your utilization rate is 30%. The lower your credit utilization percentage, the better, because it means your credit cards arent maxed out. A low percentage also shows potential lenders that you know how to manage credit card debt.
Best For Small Businesses: Quickbooks
If you run a small business, you might have attempted to run both your personal and business finances through one expense tracker app. This leads to messy reporting, unclear results, and trouble understanding what is going on with both sides of your financial life. Plus, blurring your finances between personal and business can lead to problems with taxes and might harm your personal finances if your business is ever sued.
Like Mint, Intuit is the clear leader in this space as well through its popular QuickBooks program. QuickBooks comes in various versions and editions depending on your computer and business needs. While it is far from perfect, it is the biggest and best option currently to wrap up your entire business management, including expense tracking, contract management, and payroll, all in one app.
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Download The Budget App
Budgeting app is a convenient way to manage your money. Many budgeting apps let you link all of your financial accounts, including credit cards. Once you have done this, you will be able to view balances and transactions in the app. Here are some popular budgeting apps with this feature:
- Personal capital
These three apps are available for free with no monthly fees. Pocketguard offers an annual premium version, but the basic version costs nothing.
The biggest benefit of budgeting apps is how easy they are to control your spending. By connecting your credit cards to the app, you can instantly view all your transactions.
Its important to remember that you should never use a budget app while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. These networks are insecure, so cybercriminals can monitor what you are doing and even steal your data.
Take Control Of Your Finances
The first expense tracking apps came out decades ago in the form of desktop programs such as Quicken and Microsoft Money, but the world of expense tracking has come a long way since the first version of Quicken came to the market in 1983. Now you have Web and phone-based expense tracker apps that can help you reach a whole new level of financial knowledge and preparedness. If you need to track a budget, one of these expense tracker apps is likely a great fit for you.
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Figure Out Where You Spend Most
Sift through your past credit card or bank statements and analyze your budget to uncover your biggest spending categories.
If you are going to use credit cards, you want to make sure youre getting something out of it and being rewarded, says Nelson. The last thing you want to do is pay annual fees and interest and not get something back from your spending.
Rewards on gas and dining may have been great when you were commuting more often, for example. But if now you spend more money online, at warehouse clubs like Costco, or in other categories that arent common among rewards cards, flat cash back rewards on every purchase may be a better fit.
Narrow down where you spend most, and make sure those are the categories in which youre earning the greatest rewards. Youll earn more points or cash back on your spending, and in turn, save money. If you dont know where to start, take a look at NextAdvisors top picks for rewards credit cards.
Trigger #: Paying For Your Childrens Tuition
College tuition is always on the rise. In fact, the cost of college has increased by more than 25 percent in the last 10 years.2 This is a huge financial stress on many families, especially those with multiple children. While it may be a goal of yours to pay for your childs education, it just isnt always possible.
Many students have to take out student loans and apply for financial aid, which adds to the mounting student debt around the country. More than 40 million people collectively have over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.3 To help reduce the amount of debt your child may have to take on in the future, you can start working now to help save. Options like a 529 plan are designed specifically for funding future education. Work with your financial advisor to determine how else you may be able to prepare.
Consider Sticking To One Credit Card
If you are trying to maximize credit rewards, using multiple cards often seems like a good idea. After all, you can use one card that offers bonus rewards on dining out for restaurant purchases and another card that provides added points, miles, or cash back on gas and groceries for those types of purchases.
But if youre struggling to keep your credit card spending under control, juggling multiple cards is only going to make things more difficult. So for the time being, consider using just one general purpose card. You can stick to one that offers the best cash back or points rate for everyday spending and more easily keep track of your current balance. You’ll also limit the damage you can do because you won’t be able to max out multiple cards.
Couple Tips And Tricks To Help You Track Your Spending
One of the more common reasons why many individuals have high credit card balances and struggle with debt is because they live beyond their means.
However, if you have prepared a budget that shows all of your income sources and expenses, you may be inclined to think that you should be operating in the black each month and have plenty of money left over to spend.
Nonetheless, you may be dead broke and living on borrowed money by the end of each month. If this is the case for you, you need to track your spending to see exactly where your money is going. Tracking gives you solid data that you can then analyze and use to make legitimate and beneficial improvements in your spending habits.
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Foreign Currency Conversion Charges
What are foreign currency conversion charges?
When a transaction in a foreign currency is posted to your Account, you will be charged a Foreign Currency Conversion Markup which is a percentage of the amount of the transaction that is charged for purchases and cash advances and deducted from refunds and credits.
The Foreign Currency Conversion Markup percentage is disclosed in your Disclosure Summary.
The Mastercard exchange rate and Foreign Currency Conversion Markup percentage are incorporated into the conversion rate and the Canadian dollar transaction amount shown on your statement. PC MasterCard
Its important to check with your credit card company to see what rules they have set out for travelling and foreign currency before you travel.
Even though we are a hard-core budgeting family it still happens to us because were human which is why credit card tracking is essential.
No matter where we go we always ask for our receipts so have them handy to add to our credit card tracking sheet.
Dont be shocked to hear that we brought our budget binder along with us when we went on our recent trip to the UK.
It was easy enough as its not too big and it allowed us to continue budgeting while we were travelling.
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How To Responsibly Use Your Credit Card
A credit card is a great way to make purchases and track your spending, but it can also be an easy way to get into a lot of debt. When it comes to swiping your credit card for purchases, the only time you really know youve spent too much, is if your card has reached its limit and is declined. In my opinion a credit card should always be seen as a tool, not a resource. A way to purchase things quickly, without having to carry lots of cash around. Here are a few easy ways to make sure youre using your credit card responsibly.
Wally Best For Millennials
Attractively and intuitively designed with millennial sensibilities in mind, Wally is an integrated expense tracker app with appealing graphics and social features. Wally centralizes your accounts to provide insight into your spending habits. This is accomplished by syncing with your financial accounts and using artificial intelligence. The focus of the app is on the users expenses.
Wallys budget tracker allows for setting a budget and managing day-to-day spending categories. You can quickly and easily see if you are over or under budget. The app also has a social feature for shared expenses. You can start groups amongst family and friends and budget, track and sync together to reach shared goals. Youll enjoy a consolidated view of joint accounts. That feature and more makes this one of the best expense tracker apps.
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Take Credit Cards Out Of The Picture
If your goal is to understand your true spending habits, it is wise to take your credit cards out of your wallets. Cancel any recurring memberships or expenses to your credit card accounts, or otherwise transfer those expenses to your checking account. When all of your expenses are paid through a single account, you can more easily and accurately monitor and track spending. Having something affect your credit could be potentially volatile to your personal credit, thats why you always have an option to get a title loan online, its free and easy to apply. You also can stop making additional credit card charges, and this simple step can help you to get your debt situation under control.
Don’t Forget To Check Your Credit
Once you’ve built a system for tracking your expenses and creating a budget, be sure to also monitor your credit. This could include regularly checking your credit report or signing up for free credit monitoring and can be especially helpful if you’re planning a big purchase in the near future, such as a house or a car.
Keeping on top of your credit can, for instance, give you an idea of whether you should work to improve your credit score before applying for any new credit.
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