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5 ways to help your clients track spending
As a financial advisor, you know how important it is for your clients to track their spending and stay on budget. Otherwise, it’s easy to overspend and get into debt.
Here are five techniques you can suggest that make it easier for clients to track their spending.
There are plenty of apps that will categorize spending, including those from banks and third parties. Apps offer several advantages: they don’t require manually categorizing each entry, clients can see how they’re doing in real time from anywhere and they can make changes right away to prevent or avoid further overspending. Information presented visually helps to really hit home the user’s spending habits and trends over time.
Some banking apps will notify the customer via text when their spending reaches a certain level (either a percentage of their account balance or when it exceeds their average spend). This is a great feature because it doesn’t require any effort to actively track spending — the information automatically comes to the client.
Another approach involves setting up separate bank accounts for different areas of the budget. For example, a client might have a household account, where they deposit enough to cover rent or mortgage, utilities and other essential expenses. In a second account, they deposit the amount designated for discretionary spending. Another set of accounts would be for savings, both shorter-term (such as holidays or a new car) and longer-term (down payment, retirement, etc.).
For clients who enjoy active account management and a hands-on approach, they can download their account activity into software or a spreadsheet once they’re logged into the online banking site, then assign categories, sort into groups, tally amounts and make charts.
This technique can be effective for tech-averse clients. Have one envelope for each major spending category — for example, food, clothing, transportation, home expenses. If the client uses cash, they can put the designated amount in each envelope at the start of each month. If they pay with debit or credit, they can write the budgeted amount on the front and place receipts inside and keep tabs on it throughout the month.
Budgeting and money management skills are fundamental to a solid financial plan, and a surprising number of people either don’t have these skills or don’t practice them. By providing your clients with tips and techniques, you can help them be in control of their finances.