Savvy Credit Card Use: Track Your Spending

When you use credit cards, it can be easy to believe that there is no need to track your spending.

After all, it’s not like it’s money in your checking account; a credit card is a loan.

It’s easy to just swipe your credit card and forget about the expense.  This, however, can lead to serious debt down the road.

Indeed, without proper planning, and without tracking your spending, you can easily wind up in debt — and pay high interest fees and even over the limit fees.

Staying Within Your Credit Limit

One of the biggest issues with a failure to track your spending is the fact that you can easily overrun your credit limit.

If you don’t know how much you’ve spent, you won’t know when you are approaching your credit limit.  This means that you could easily overspend without realizing it.

Once you go beyond your limit, the fees start to add up.  These fees are charged on top of your interest costs.  The higher your balance, the higher you interest payments, and the more you overrun your limit, the more you will pay in other fees.

When you get close to your credit limit, or even go over, you are also affecting your credit score (not in a good way).

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This can quickly sap your wealth and get you stuck in the debt cycle.

Make Sure You are Sticking to a Budget


Another issue is that without tracking your spending, you aren’t sticking to your budget.

This is a real problem if you are trying to keep your spending under control.

When you have multiple accounts, and multiple cards, keeping track of your spending on each is important, and it’s especially important if you want to avoid the problems that come with spending beyond your means.

Make sure to enter your spending with a credit card into your budget categories so that you keep everything under control.

How to Track Your Credit Card Spending

track credit card spending

Don't let your credit card spending get out of control. Track it!

You can track your credit card spending much the same way you track other spending.

One of the best ways is to get personal finance software.  A personal finance program, or a budgeting application, can help you keep track of what you spend, and where you spend it.

This is important for credit card spending as it is for other types of spending.  Each time you spend, immediately enter the amount in your personal finance software.  Some budgeting sites allow you to connect your credit cards to their account so when you use your credit card the purchase gets tracked automatically.

If you are looking for a budgeting site check out Mint or Adaptu.

One way to help you remember to deduct your credit card spending from your budget is to remember to save the receipts from your purchases.

Keep the receipt, and as soon as you get home, add the expense into your personal finance software.  If you don’t do your finances daily, keep the receipt in a special folder.  Then, every couple of days, or once a week, when you accomplish money tasks, you can pull out the folder and update.

You can also track credit card spending within your budget.

If you have a system for keeping track of what you spend in each budget category, make sure to include your credit card spending.  When you spend money on entertainment using your credit card, make sure that your budget reflects that.

Your Credit Card Can Help Too

Many credit cards will bucket your purchases into different spending categories automatically.  You may be able to chart and graph how you spend with your card.  This can help you see where your money is going.

You can usually set up spending alerts as well for your cards.  Set up email or text alerts when your spending comes close to your credit limit as well as when your card payment is due (or a few days before it’s due, just to be careful).

There are also a number of mobile apps these days that credit cards offer to help you keep on top of your spending.

Finally

It’s important to incorporate your credit card spending into your regular spending plan/budget, rather than having your credit cards outside it.

These days it’s easy to track your credit cards spending.  You just need to use the tools that are out there.

How do you track your credit card spending?

 

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Published or updated April 6, 2013.

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