Just as it is important to make a list and budget for holiday spending it is also helpful to keep your spending under control throughout the year.

One way to do this is to track your expenses. For at least a month, keep track of everything you spend money on. This way you can see how much you spend in certain areas and can use it to develop your budget.

It is easy to lose track of how much you are spending. If you practice conscious spending and think before you spend to make sure you really need/want the item. A dollar here and there can add up quick. Those few dollars saved can add up to something you may want more.

I have heard from some people about their bills being high and I have heard of Target known as the $50 dollar store because even going in for one or two things you come out with $50 worth of items. But if you think about the items before putting them in your cart, you may be able to save some money.

I have some friends that are surprised by how much they save when they watch what they are spending.

With the prices of many things going up and higher utility costs with winter coming it may be helpful to find ways to cut expenses. Some people who have been laid off or have income decreased find that they need to be more careful with how much they spend on things. It may be beneficial to start shopping this way before your circumstances change so you have some leeway if you do find yourself with a decrease of income.

Spendster is a website where people share stories of impulse buying and other ways they now feel they wasted their money. The site also includes tools to calculate how costly items, such as unopened DVDs really are and how much you could save without buying them.

Nancy Kvamme