Knowing your monthly expenses is a good first step to saving money

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If you’re broke at the end of the month and wondering if you can afford a night out for fun or even buying gas, a Northern Virginia financial consultant has some advice.

If you’re broke at the end of the month and wondering if you can afford a night out for fun or even buying gas, a Northern Virginia financial consultant has some advice.

First, you need to have an idea of ​​today’s actual monthly expenses to create as accurate a budget as possible.



“Last year you may have spent $200-$300 a month on food. Well, now that can be $400 or $500 a month in food,” said Chase Lopez, finance professional with ILG Financial in Stafford, Va.

“It’s something that you really want to master every month or every six months because prices are changing very quickly right now. So you really want to make sure that you’re always spending X dollars on food, gas, all these different things,” he said.

Lopez recommends checking bank statements monthly to get an idea of ​​what you’ve been spending for the past six months or so for different reasons.

Chase Lopez, finance professional, of ILG Financial in Stafford, Virginia. (Courtesy of ILG Financial)

First, it can help you identify phantom payments that you may have forgotten about and want to cancel.

“Often you will have a subscription that you do not have [remember] it was just automatically removed from your account,” he said.

“Once you can get rid of all those extra expenses, which may be unnecessary, it can really start to shape how you can save for your future.”

Another reason to check bank statements has to do with what Lopez calls one of the most common mistakes people make: underestimating how much they spend on dining out on weekdays at the office.

And, if you really want to cut back on your expenses, it might be time to ask your household some serious questions.

“Look at your bank statements, probably for the last six months to a year, and say, ‘Hey, do I really need this stuff? For example, if you have maybe, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, all the different subscriptions for the videos there. Maybe you scale that down a bit,” Lopez said.

“Really, it’s just a matter of looking at those individual expenses and assessing how important they really are to you.”



The other side of the ledger sheet is about the amount of money coming in.

“Knowing exactly how much money is coming in after taxes and then knowing exactly how much money is going out is really the key to building that financial future that everyone is looking for,” Lopez said.

There are apps to help people track their income and expenses. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance analyzes some of them on its website.

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