Although Canada’s economy has mostly recovered from the vast expenses of COVID-19, it is still not exactly the fifties in the Maritimes. And even if it was – the iGaming market was hardly up to much back then so who cares. The point is, economic prosperity or not, one should always have an eye on their digits. Especially these days when so many business models are designed for as much longevity of our custom as possible. Have you ever noticed an unexpected payment in your bank statement, then have your bemusement turn to horror as you see how many months the payment has been repeated? It sucks donkey… and if you have never experienced that then maybe double check your bank statement before you get too cocky.
The fact is it is just so hard to keep track of incomes and outgoings, what with digitization and sneaky businesses that avoid reminding us of our membership. Somewhere, for sure, is a gym with no equipment and an owner who collects yachts. Anyway, maybe all these economically frustrated phenomena will be in the past as people start to keep an eye on their money. Here are six ways to track your online spending.
Bad shopping habits? Control your spending by timing yourself, blocking URLs, and setting spend caps. Paid apps will offer such things although they are easily done without. For example by using the stopwatch function on your phone. This particularly comes in handy when there is a regular culprit for your money leakage. Say, a certain online fashion retailer whose allegedly peerless bargains reel you in after work. You can simply put on a timer and when it’s up, switch to another activity or site. Not only will this reveal how long you were previously getting sucked in but timers, in general, help us see such behaviors as what they really are: habits. The phrase ‘time is money works on multiple levels, it has to be said.
Only gamble at online casinos that offer responsible gambling tools
The iGaming industry has enjoyed a phenomenal boom recently and if you are one of those money oriented souls with a penchant for calculated risks then you will likely be all over it. When placing bets however time can bend and the amount of wagers can appear to condense. Unless you are racking up the dollars on a winning streak this is not always a good thing. If you are someone who has ever chased a loss then you need to make sure you are tracking your spending when gaming. The best way to do this is to use responsible gambling tools. Different sites will have different tools but all safe online casinos in Canada will have something or other to police your outgoings. This could be spend limits, trackers or blocking payments from your bank for logins. Some sites even have routine time out sessions while you play – that is the time to track how much you have just spent.
Review your bank statement
One of the more obvious ones here but nonetheless essential for tracking your finances if you choose to avoid the app route. The trouble with this method is that a lot of the accounts associated with the businesses you are paying use different names to that of the company. So, it is not always clear which is a purchase at a random corner store and which is going to the gym owner cum yacht collector. The issues with this proliferate when you have multiple accounts of course.
Separate business and personal
If you are a small business owner or self employed then you really should be doing this for your taxes. Not to suggest that there is anything fishy with not doing this but it is at the very least a major inconvenience to constantly go through your payments and accurately distinguish between the two. Unless you are listing personal purchases as business expenditure and have no fear of being audited. Of course, it depends on your business and how complex the spending is for it to run. Accounting software should be your ideal, as a typical tracker app may not be as aquipt for this level of expenditure nor be able to reliably analyse budgeting. A good PoS system will have such functions built in, so if PoS is applicable to your business then it is a no brainer for sure.
The key to budgeting is to be realistic, there is nothing that will make you want to quit tracking more than setting an unattainable goal and then losing heart when you do not attain it. Figure out your net income (that is income minus the standard deductibles such as tax) and work from that: Microsoft Excel is not necessary though it can be ideal if you are up for it and have the proficiency necessary. Now when you track your spending it will be clear which areas you can focus on more and which less. If you are struggling with this process then there are plenty of free templates online and indeed functions on the tracker apps. Although, to reiterate, thiese may not be up to scratch if you are trying to run a business.
Use a tracker app
Want all of the above rolled into one? There is a plethora of apps that, having gained access to your financial information, monitor and (sometimes, with permission) alter what is leaving the account. There is a great diversity of financial apps too: some simply group your accounts together and give reports rather than intervening, some help you plan for the future and others even automatically (and stubbornly?) appeal fines! It may be that you need planning and budgetting as much if not more than tracking. In that case apps like YNAB would be the first port of call as they demand a high level of strict budgeting that will see your personal finances ready for anything.
For the apps that implement the more advanced and intervening effects, there will be another monthly fee to add to their own radar. That said, there are plenty of well-reviewed free apps such as Mint that offer the basics of financial tracking.