Secrets to Saving: Track Your Expenses

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Do you want to save money but you're not sure how to start?

Keep a record of your expenses. What you save falls between two activities and their difference: how much you make and how much you spend. Because you have more control over how much you spend, it's wise to take a critical look at your expenses.

Write down everything you spend your money on for a couple weeks or a month. Be as detailed as possible and try to not leave out small purchases. Assign each purchase or expenditure a category such as rent, car insurance, car payments, phone bill, cable bill, utilities, gas, food, entertainment.

Get in the habit of recording every expense and saving the receipts. Sit down once a week with your small notebook and receipts. Record your expenses in a larger notebook or a spreadsheet program. is a great site for online budgeting. It has you put all your accounts into the computer and it ultimately analyzes all of your spending. There are also many apps you can download to your phone that will help you keep track of your expenses.

Trim Your Expenses

Take a good, hard look at your spending records after a month or two has passed. You'll probably be surprised when you look back at your record of expenses: $300 on ice cream, $100 on parking tickets? You'll likely see some obvious cuts you can make.

Depending on how much you need to save, however, you may need to make some difficult decisions. Think about your priorities and make cuts you can live with. Calculate how much those cuts will save you per year, and you'll be much more motivated to pinch pennies.

Can you move to a less-expensive apartment or house? Can you refinance your mortgage?

Can you save money on gas, or give up a car altogether? If your family has multiple cars, can you bring it down to one?

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Ways to Save

Can you get a better price on insurance? Call around, and make sure you are getting the best price you can. Consider taking a higher deductible, too.

Shop the discount racks at clothing stores. Items on clearance are marked down considerably and could save you 50 percent of the price.

Can you drop a land line and either only use your cell phone or save money by calling over the Internet for free with services such as Skype?

Can you live without cable or satellite TV?

Can you cut down on your utility bills?

Can you restrict eating out? Buy food in bulk? Start using coupons? Cook more at home? You might be able to save a lot of money when grocery shopping.

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Do you have the money to afford your dream home? CLICK HERE for tips on financial planning.

CLICK HERE to read more about the Secret to Saving Money from, and CLICK HERE for more financial advice from personal finance expert Mellody Hobson.