So far, we've covered the importance of monitoring savings, income, bills, bank statements, transportation spending, housing, and healthcare. So what remains?
8. Insurance – reviewing your insurance policies (auto, home, etc) is important for a couple of reasons. Primarily, it ensures that you are protected in the case of unforeseen misfortunes. Additionally though, looking over your policies and doing a bit of comparison shopping can save you a considerable amount. Make sure that you are getting the best rates you can possibly get. If you are unsure, talk to an insurance agent or financial planner.
9. Investments – stay on top of your investments; know how much you have placed where, and make sure you have a sense of how well or how poorly your money is doing there. It may be time to reallocate your resources. Also, be aware of how your goals and needs change in relation to your investments. We all know that higher risks have the potential for higher yields...but if stability and predictability are critical for you at this point in your life, then mutual funds may not be the route for you. Again, if you are unsure, speak with a financial planner, and even consider signing out some library books on the topic.
10. Day to day expenditures – Ahhh. I've heard it told that packing your lunch and skipping the Starbucks in favour of a thermos of home-brewed coffee can actually save far more than you would ever imagine. But is it true? I definitely think so...but it wasn't until I started tracking every single expenditure I made that I began to see this. Are you daunted by the prospect of doing that? Don't be! It can be as simple as you want it to be. If you make a habit of keeping a notebook or electronic device with you where you enter your spendings, plain old arithmetic will tell you where you stand daily, weekly, monthly, however frequently you choose to check. But it can be even easier than that, if you so desire. I'm personally a huge fan of Mint which is free to use. You can link your bank account (multiple accounts, actually) to it and have it instantly create charts and graphs that compare your actual spendings with your goals for various categories that you get to determine. What else does Mint have to boast about? There's a Mint app for just about every device out there, so you can use it on the go (which is how we do most of our spending).
So as you can see, keeping track of your finances is actually very doable. Of course, you may find that there are other categories you would like to add to this checklist. Conversely, there may be categories you feel you don't need to visit so regularly...but if you find yourself at a loss, try using these tips as a starting point, and customize it as you go.