Have you ever kept track of your expenses? One of the best ways to avoid a cash advance is to create a budget and stick to it. It's all the untracked extras which get bought throughout the month that leads many folks to online short-term money options. The end of the month comes and then there is no money left to finalize the cost of living payments. What happened?
*If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need to identify where the money is going. Creating a budget will help guide this process, but it is all the varying expenses (like food and gas) which can make or break the end of month number crunching.
*Evaluate your spending. Are you meeting your financial goals and objectives? What area within the budget can be revised to promote success?
*It may seem like a real pain, but if you keep track of every penny spent, you will get a clear picture of where the money disappears to.
There are many software programs which aid in tracking expenses. Don't want to spend the money on these? Make yourself a spreadsheet either on the computer or the old-fashioned way. Earmark your expenses into clear categories for easy tracking. Split categories into subcategories. Whether making your own or using a popular software program, plan some extra time to set it all up. For example, a category may be "auto expenses". In order to properly track the costs involved, subcategories such as "fuel", "insurance" and "service" should be set up. When it is time to evaluate your budget, you will be able to see the breakdown of the money more clearly.
I would bet that breaking down the "food" category could really pinpoint where lots of the extra cash is going. Stop for a coffee, buy a lunch, pass a few dollars to a child for snacks at the game, it will all get logged. Split your food category up into subcategories. It might be surprising how much gets spent within each. Also take into consideration what gets thrown out. I know in my house I buy produce which does not always get served for dinner. Even my best intentions to cook at home are often disrupted by extracurricular activities or illnesses.
There is a plus side to using the latest software programs. At the end of the month, after everything is logged down, you will be able to get instant reports. Looking for information presented in a graph or table? With just a few clicks of a button, you will have it presented to you. Do it yourself spreadsheets will not give instant reports; they will be do it yourself as well.
The point of better budgeting is to not only know where the money goes, but also to use the information to make the budget better. Think how much easier life will be if you can cut out all need for cash advances, carry very little credit card debt and build a savings account.
Use the collected data and pinpoint what categories need to have cutbacks made. Every month that goes by with costs supported by actual income, not credit cards or cash advances, the better off your finances will be in the long run.