NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- At every moment of every day, your bank, your other bank, your brokerage, and your credit card, mortgage and utility companies are recording every single money move you make. But until they come up with personalized advice on how to keep better track of your money, it's up to you to figure out how to make the most of those $100 ATM withdrawals.
To make sure you spend your pocket cash wisely, you would do well to heed the advice of The Motley Fool's Dayana Yochim before blowing another $20 -- another $1, if you ask her -- bill:
Stop stealing from your child's future.
Every time you brush off a $100 ATM withdrawal or $40 dribbled away (or any other transaction), you might as well be wadding up cash in yesterday's paper and tossing it to the curb. Every dollar that passes through your fingers with nary a fleeting acknowledgment is another dollar that doesn't get invested into your child's 529 college savings plan. And every dollar you shell out for an unmemorable meal is one less dollar socked away in your family's summer vacation fund. In fact, says Yochim, "every dollar that's not allocated toward something that assures either your physical welfare (a roof, food and safety) or psychological well-being (don't deny yourself that latte if it's really what gets you through your day) is a dollar that never even gets a shot at being invested.
Envision a bright future for your ATM withdrawal slip.
Let's pretend that instead of paying $75 on some mysterious credit-card charge or bank-debit entry, you instead diverted it into a dividend reinvestment plan account (a.k.a. "Drip"). Plenty of well-known companies offer these plans, including 3M, Johnson & Johnson and Exxon Mobil. If you earned 7% average annualized returns on your investment, you'd pocket an extra $63 in one year. If you continued to treat your dollars with the same conscientiousness over the span of three years, that $75 a month would blossom into $3,100.
Treat every single dollar as an investment.
There's a good chance that every month at least 75 chances to make better spending or saving decisions present themselves to you. Most people could easily find an extra 10% to set aside if they only bothered to look where they can trim expenses. So for someone making $75,000 a year, that equals $7,500 in investment opportunities. Once you start viewing every dollar through the lens of its potential, you'll start making better choices about what you do with your money.
By Marshall Loeb