In theory, I’m thoughtful about how I spend my cash. Before paying monthly credit card bills, I read each statement: partly to scan for errors, partly to reflect. Any painful line item — from an overpriced plane ticket to a shopping spree that spiraled out of control — becomes a helpful reminder to do better next month, when I’ll book flights earlier or (wistfully) pare down an armful of shoes to just the one pair I originally set out to buy.
Does this work? Kind of. Prompted by a New Year’s resolution to track spending even more closely, I recently reviewed my 2017 expenses, finding there were few big one-off purchases, and even fewer I explicitly regretted.
Instead, my most troublesome expenses were less obvious: small, sneaky costs of the sort that add up only after you step back and do some math. Luckily, in 2018 there are many apps and tools to help out with calculations.
Before committing to Mint or another such service, I decided to give my bank’s built-in budgeting tools a spin. And I already had a gut feeling about which expense would turn out to be the worst offender: Uber.