Homeowners hoping to stay out of the red should consider becoming the masters of cash flow. Your household cash flow reveals important things about your money. Once you know where each dollar is coming and going, you’ll know if you’re spending it responsibly. For many, the task of managing their cash flow means following a budget, but it doesn’t always entail working more or eating less takeout. Money management comes in a lot of shapes and sizes but controlling your cash flow always requires you to become more organized.

Dollars have a way of disappearing when you aren’t paying attention. If you’ve ever wondered, “Wait, where did that paycheck go?” then getting organized could help you get your finances on track. Here are some tips to help control your money so it doesn’t control you.

Review What You Spend

Your checking balance should never be a surprise; you should always have a rough idea of how much you have in your account at any given time. You’ll only know this number when you keep on top of your variable expenses. You should try tracking your purchases every time you spend money, no matter how small your bill is. Note down every purchase — from your $100 grocery bill to your $2.50 takeout coffee — and compare it to what you have in the bank.

Your variable expenses hold a huge opportunity for savings if you’re willing to make sacrifices. You can use coupons to save at the grocery store, or you can limit how often you grab a takeout coffee.

Track Recurring Expenses

In the same vein, you should be aware of those fixed expenses that remain the same each month. Things like rent and mortgage payments, car insurance, or a monthly bus fare fall under this category. These expenses are harder to change. Take, for example, changing what you pay in rent. You would have to finance a move if you wanted to find a different apartment or house.

While there are fewer opportunities for savings in this category, it’s not impossible to make these changes. If the rent is too damn high, moving to a cheaper neighbourhood could be the only financially responsible option.

Tracking both variable and invariable expenses is the easiest when you have a money management app to help. Any of the apps listed here sync with your financial accounts to automatically track your spending and notify you of your habits.

Ask Yourself How You’ll Deal With a Deficit

If your time reviewing your budget shows you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then your finances are in a delicate position. Just one unexpected bill can throw you into a deficit. Unfortunately, unexpected bills are a part of life. No matter how hard you budget, you’ll face things like unforeseen parking tickets, laptop repairs, and medical issues that you can’t ignore.

Preparing for these expenses before they happen is the best way to minimize their impact on your finances. Savings are your finances’ natural safety net for when things go wrong, and you can tap into them when you have to pay for an essential prescription renewal. Online personal loans are a simple temporary substitute for savings if you don’t have them. Online lenders like MoneyKey have streamlined the borrowing experience by removing many of the complexities that delay the typical cash loan. You can see how they differ from other loans online by visiting before you find personal loans online for help.

Check Credit Card Statements for Accuracy

Just because you can’t remember making a purchase doesn’t mean you’ve failed at cash flow management. Sometimes, there’s a chance your credit card could be compromised if someone managed to find your number and PIN. By keeping an eye on your statements, you can catch these false charges as soon as they happen. Identity theft can be devastating to your financial health, so you shouldn’t delay addressing it.

If your card is compromised, call your bank and credit card company right away. You should also get in contact with a credit agency to put an alert on your credit profile.

Monitor Automatic Subscriptions

If you think automatic subscription is just a fancy way to talk about your bills, you would be wrong. Quite often, bills (like the ones for your utilities or cellphone) can change from month to month depending on your usage. Other bills (like the onestied to your car lease or payday loan) are necessary expenses you have to make.

Automatic subscriptions, on the hand, are fixed in every sense of the word. They require you to pay the same amount every month on a fixed payment cycle. Typically, these are voluntary expenses that make your life a lot more enjoyable — think Netflix, Google Play, your monthly Birchbox delivery, and even your gym membership. Though these are fun things to have, you don’t need them. You could cut some or all of them out to earn more cash for your savings account.

Bottom Line: It’s Time to Get Familiar With Your Money

An organized approach is key when it comes to managing your cash flow, so get ready to put in some effort tracking down bills and monitoring your expenses. While money management apps will help you keep an eye on your spending, the responsibility to spend well rests solely on your shoulders. Expect to feel uncomfortable trying out these new organizational tips at first, but once they become a habit, you won’t think twice about your new lifestyle.