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List: Posted: 10/14/11
Saving cash and getting out of debt starts by keeping track of how much cash you have during any given month. In some cases, trying to set a budget using high-tech products makes money seem a bit abstract; it's all just numbers on a computer screen. Some low-tech methods can really make a difference where saving money is concerned.
Keep a Ledger
A ledger doesn't have to be the big, green books you remember from the old days. It can be a notebook or anything else. The point is that you actually write down the amount of money you're spending every month and, in doing so, you notice those numbers more.
This technique is also great for planning. You'll start to realize things about your monthly expenses that you can use to your advantage. For example, you might notice that your car payment, credit card payment and insurance payment all come due in the same week, which means you can use one paycheck to take care of all of them.
Use Cash Only
Cash is a great tool for tracking your expenses. Instead of carrying around credit or debit cards for everything, consider using cold, hard cash. It makes the purchases you make seem much more real and seeing how much you really have left can make a difference in how smart you are with your money.
Use Envelopes to File Money
Since you're moving to cash, you can use an innovative way to track it that's actually very old. Using your budget, make an envelope for each category in that budget. Take the cash required and place it in the appropriate envelope. You might, for instance, budget $200 for groceries and, when you go shopping, take that cash with you. When the envelope is empty, you're out of money for that purchase category for the month, which can keep you on track!
Keep Your Receipts
Keep all of your receipts, whether they're from purchases you make physically or online. The old shoebox method works great. Just put a box somewhere that you'll always notice it and toss every receipt you get into the box. At the end of the month, you can track your expenses using the receipts and nothing will be left as a mystery.
This is also great at tax time; accountants still like to get a box of receipts, even though they'll take most of your information electronically.
It's so easy to shop around for the best prices on items that it makes sense to do it, especially when it comes to expenses such as groceries. You don't have to drive around to do it, either.
When you go to the grocery store, save your receipt, which you should be doing already, and circle anything that was on sale. You can check on future receipts to see whether those items go on sale frequently or infrequently and whether the sales are really saving you any money. You can also find other grocery stores and compare the receipts to one another to see which offers better prices on specific items or in general.
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