Where has all the money gone?

Young man shopping and deciding whether to buy the latest CD while holding multiple shopping bags and a latte. You don't need to be a private investigator to crack open one of the biggest mysteries of all: Where does all your money go? All you need to do is play financial detective.

Your mission? Track where your money goes for a few days. Keep it short: A week - or, if you're ambitious, a month - is all you'll need. Here's how.

Track it with plastic

When you use a credit or debit card, you get a detailed report of exactly how much money you spent as well as when and where you spent it. Your bank statement, too, contains specific details on how and where you used your debit card. Review your paper statements when they arrive each month, or get into the habit of reviewing your transactions online every month or week by logging in to EasyWeb Internet banking or by using the TD mobile app.

Count the cash

Cash you grab on the go from a bank machine has a nasty habit of disappearing into thin air. Take it out, turn around, and POOF! it's gone and you often can't figure out where it went.

The solution? When you grab some cash, write down the amount on a slip of paper, and use an elastic band to keep it with the bills, along with a pen. Whenever you spend any of that cash, write down - then and there - what you bought and the cost, or keep the receipt.

Sift through the evidence

When the week (or month) is over, sit down with all the evidence:

Grab a fresh piece of paper or open a spreadsheet on your computer. Now, come up with two lists of your spending: one by date, and one by the type of spending (groceries, parking, restaurants, pubs, etc.). The more specific you can be, the better.

Collar the culprit

What do you see? You may discover some costly habits that have been sabotaging your finances. Maybe you've got a "cheap" muffin and coffee habit. Cheap, except it eats up $1,000 a year. Use the clues you uncover to handcuff your biggest financial offences, so running out of money isn't one of your daily worries. You'll also see your savings start to grow. Who knew a short-term detective gig could pay so well?

Take the next steps

If you notice that you’re frequently overdrawn, you may wish to consider getting Overdraft Protection. And, of course, it’s a great way to identify areas where you could trim costs.