Tracking Your Financial Life Is The Most Important Money Move You Can Make — Here’s How To Get Started

How people are using Sofi Relay to budget.
Illustration: The Money Manual

One of the biggest financial mistakes that people make is that they don’t actually know where their money is going. The statistics on this are staggering: According to CNBC, 65% of Americans say they don’t know how much money they spent last month. At the same time, CNBC has reported that money is the biggest stress for the majority of Americans.

It’s a strange dichotomy. Many may be avoiding looking at their finances because of the fear of what they will find. At the same, there is no doubt that by avoiding checking and tracking one’s finances, people are unquestionably creating more money issues for themselves and making their financial picture much worse.

The worst part of all of this — this is entirely preventable! Everyone has it within their power to track their finances to get to a better financial place.

Given that we know that doing this can be overwhelming — at least for those who have never done it before — we are going to outline a few key steps to get started. Don’t worry, we have a hack — Sofi Relay* — that is going to make this entirely pain-free.

1. Make A Pact With Yourself: You’ve Got To Stop Avoiding Your Finances

Getting to a better financial place is kind of like deciding you want to eat healthier or you want to work towards a promotion at your company — you’ve essentially got to make a pact with yourself to make it a priority to actually do it. This is the most important first step you can make towards getting your financial life to a better place.

2. Do A Deep Dive Into What’s Going In And What’s Going Out

You can’t get to a better financial place without first knowing your current financial picture. At the core of it, that means figuring out what’s coming in and what’s going out. Now, before you start freaking out that you have to go through all of your pay stubs and bills to make some complicated Excel spreadsheet, take a deep breath, we have an easier way.

SoFi Relay is one of our favorite budgeting apps because it makes doing this incredibly easy.

When you sign-up you’ll be able to link everything from your checking and savings accounts to investment and retirement accounts to your credit cards, student loans, and mortgages so you can see your entire financial life in one place. Even if for some reason you aren’t able to add a specific account, you can add the account manually, so you’ll get a full picture of your finances.

Once you’ve spent a few minutes linking all of your accounts to Sofi Relay, you’ll have a birds-eye view of your financial life immediately. It really is that easy.

3. Make Tracking Your Spending A Part Of Your Routine

Once you’ve signed up for Sofi Relay and you have access to a birds-eye view of your finances, you’ll be immediately able to start tracking your finances. You’ll be able to set monthly spending targets and review your top spending categories.

Having the ability to regularly track your spending means that you are going to start making better financial decisions, too. You’ll start identifying bills that you might be paying too much for, spending categories that are biting into your wallet way too much, and you’ll also start finding opportunities within your budget to save more.

Another important thing you’ll gain by signing up for SoFi Relay is you’ll be able to track your credit score and get alerts if it changes.

4. Now It’s Time To Take Your Financial Life To The Next Level

Once you’re tracking your spending — the most important financial move a person can make as far as we are concerned — you’ll be well on your way to taking your financial life to the next level. SoFi Relay offers some major perks to help its users do this, including connecting them to talk one-on-one with financial planners in order to set ambitious money goals.

This is the stage where you can get away from living paycheck to paycheck, and start using your money to realize your big life goals — buying a house, traveling the world, getting a higher education degree, and so much more. This is the reward for tracking your spending — getting to finally realize your dreams.

Here’s how to get started with SoFi Relay:

  1. Become a SoFi user if you aren’t already — either via the web or the SoFi app
  2. Once you’ve done that, activate Sofi Relay
  3. Connect all of your financial accounts to the SoFi Relay dashboard so you can see your net worth, plus credit monitoring and customized spending tracking
  4. That’s it! You’ll be well on your way to meeting your financial goals.
*SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery, or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.