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Track your spending and manage your money

Want to know why a Fitness Tracker helps you get fit? Or why Weight Loss Programs help you shed the kilos?

If you want to save money, you should track where it goes.

What is a spend tracker?

A spend tracker is a tool which allows you to track the money going out of your bank account or pocket each day. Expenses are usually grouped together to help show any habits, good and bad. Knowing where your spending pitfalls are, helps you decide on where to make tweaks and changes to help you stay in control of your money. And, like most things, there are apps for this too. 

Why track your spending?

Wrap a Fitness Tracker around your wrist and you’re pretty much guaranteed to start walking more. It’s a mental thing – you become more aware of how active you are, and how your activity compares to a particular goal (10,000 steps, anyone?). The Fitness Tracker tells you a tangible truth about your life and gives you a daily nudge to improve on it.

Tracking your spending habits can work in much the same way. Here, we take a look at how a few home truths about your spending could help you save.

Is your money going, going, gone?

Spending and saving. One of them, a walk in the park. The other, something that most of us chuck in the too-hard basket along with cross-fit and quitting sugar. Fair enough. Saving cash isn’t wired into our DNA (spending, on the other hand …). To get good at it, the first step is to wrap your head around what you’re spending your money on.

Think about it. Those weeks when you withdraw $150 from the ATM on a Monday, and have nothing left by Wednesday? Or those times when you look at your balance and almost fall off your chair? You thought you were flush with funds and then – nothing. Somehow, somewhere, you’ve spent all the money you thought you had. Fiscal catastrophes like these happen to the best of us.

Question is, where does your money go? You don’t need to be a financial analyst or economic adviser to get the answer. All you need is an app or two.

Question is, where does your money go? You don’t need to be a financial analyst or economic adviser to get the answer.

Track your spending on the go

Unless you’re a spreadsheet whiz (we all know one, don’t we?) or handy with an old-school ledger, an easy way to track your spending is by using a tracking or budgeting app.

For ANZ customers, it’s easy to see your daily spending in the ANZ App using the ANZ Spendi feature. Simply set a daily spending limit based on your lifestyle for an account, and ANZ Spendi will show your daily spending at a glance. Remember to put in a realistic limit for yourself as ANZ Spendi won’t do this for you.

Keep in mind that ANZ Spendi is designed to show how you’re spending but won’t stop you from spending.

You could also look at the TrackMySPEND app from ASIC’s MoneySmart. This simple app lets you record different types of expenses, as well as set yourself spending limits and savings goals. It also lets you group expenses according to ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ – a handy way to see how much of your weekly or monthly budget is dissolving at the bottom of a martini glass instead of being spent on stuff you really need. (That’s not to say you don’t need nights out with your mates.)

Starting new habits

It’s all very well to go detective-mode on your spending with a handy app or two. But what do you do with the data that starts pouring in?

First up, you could create a new daily habit of checking the data on the app. Or, if you’re not using an app, you could simply go to online banking and see what the last five transactions were. Do it while you’re waiting for your morning coffee or during your lunch break. It doesn’t take long.

A tiny habit like this can morph into something special.  By adding something new, tiny habits to your daily routine could put you on the path to a goal.  After your feet touch the floor in the morning you could say,  “Today is going to be a good day”.

Understand your spending patterns

Back to your spending. If you have a habit of checking your spending on a daily basis, you’ll soon start to see patterns emerge. You become more aware of where your money goes (just like that Fitness Tracker) and can start to find ways to save.  Look for things that weren’t absolutely necessary (like that second martini) or could have been a little cheaper.

For example, that premium music streaming service you’re paying for but haven’t used for the last two months? You could scrap it. The big chunk of money you’re giving to taxi drivers each month? Think about public transport. Or the surprisingly high amount of money going on groceries each week? You could shop smarter by comparing prices and cutting back on the camembert. More money saving tips

Don’t forget, money management and spending are highly personal. Some people are very thrifty and only spend on what they absolutely need. (Maybe saving is wired into these peeps’ DNA.) Others are willing to spend a little more in pursuit of the Good Life. There’s no right or wrong. The key is to get clarity on your personal spending habits so that you can create a more realistic budget that’s designed with your life in mind.

So what are you waiting for? With app in hand, go forth and conquer your savings goals!

More guides to help you

Create a budget

Follow these simple steps to create a budget, take control of your spending and reach your savings goals. Learn more about creating a budget

Saving tips

We've put together some helpful tips to help you start saving and make saving part of your daily routine. Learn more about better ways to save

Hide and save

When it comes to saving money, you can be your own worst enemy. Just when you think you’re getting ahead, you withdraw a stash of cash for an unplanned purchase. Hiding your money can help.

Find out ways that you can hide your money to save it

Earning interest

Discover how interest is calculated for our everyday accounts, savings accounts and term deposits. Learn more about how interest works and is calculated

Read more guides

The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives financial situation or needs.  By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations.  You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.

You can find out more about the TrackMySPEND app from ASIC’s MoneySmart at https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/mobile-apps/trackmyspend