Financial Goals 2020: Tracking Your SpendingJanuary 7, 2020
By Tracey Suhr
This blog has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute tax or financial advice. Please consult your tax advisor for guidance on your personal tax situation.
Whether it’s losing weight, going back to school, trying a new sport, or getting your finances in order, there’s no better month than January to refocus your body and mind. Right now, it’s a new year and a new decade so you’re not just resetting for the next 12 months, you’re kicking off the next 10 years, and the resolutions are more important than ever. If tracking your spending is at the top of your goal-setting list—especially after an indulgent holiday season—check out our budgeting tips below.
When it comes to budgeting, the tedious spreadsheets of yesterday are long gone. There are apps and online programs to make tracking your spending in 2020 a breeze. Mint is a simple (and free) budgeting planner and finance tracker that connects with your bank accounts and credit cards to help you see all account activity in one place. You can access Mint with your computer or phone to:
- See spending across categories (like shopping, gas, eating out, etc.)
- Create realistic budgets based on past spending habits
- Set reminders for bills
- Check your credit score
- And more
While Mint is more of a look back at your past spending, you can also try more forward-thinking but paid-for budget tools like YNAB (You Need A Budget). Like Mint, this platform seamlessly connects to your accounts to help you see spending trends and automate budgeting, but it’s also more educational. To help you track your spending, YNAB focuses on four rules of budgeting:
- Give Every Dollar A Job – don’t buy on a whim, be sure every dollar is assigned a task, whether it’s for eating out or paying student loans.
- Embrace Your True Expenses – each month, set aside money for those big, inevitable expenses like car repairs and the holidays. Then you aren’t in a bind when they hit.
- Roll With The Punches – if you splurge, avoid being riddled with guilt by simply reallocating funds from another category. Do it, and move on.
- Age Your Money – Never spend money that’s less than 30 days old (i.e., you should be paying this month’s bills with last month’s paycheck)
What Refinancing Student Loans Does For Your Budget
Regardless of which platform you chose, it’s important to see spending in categories to help you understand where the majority of your paycheck goes. If you’re a recent college graduate or parent of a graduate, student loans can be one of the biggest categories in your budget. Refinancing student loans can give you a lower monthly payment, freeing up money for other categories. This helps you uphold the “Roll With The Punches” rule of reallocating money from one category to the other when “Whoops!” moments happen with your spending.
ELFI customers have reported saving an average of $286 every month or an average of $22,500 in total savings after refinancing student loans with Education Loan Finance.1 That’s a big chunk of change that can be added to one spending category or divided up among several, all while still making payments on your student loan debt.
On the other hand, if you finalize your 2020 budget and realize you have extra money in other categories, you can choose to pay down your student loan debt by making additional or larger monthly payments. This concept of overpaying can cut your loan repayment time in half.
>> Related: Should I Save or Pay Down Student Loan Debt
If you’re thinking about refinancing student loans to help with your 2020 budgeting, check out our Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see just how much you could save by working with ELFI. You can also review the benefits of student loan refinancing on to see how ELFI can work for you.*
*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.
1 Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 11/01/2021 and 12/15/2021. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.
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