Make a Better BudgetBudgets have an interesting ally: the credit card industry. Since 2009, credit card companies have changed their practice to shed more light on how consumers spend their money each month. Also, new services like Mint and others allow customers to make a budget based on their transactional history.

Credit cards can be used to make a better budget. Here’s how:

1. Documented spending – Credit card companies send a monthly statement to customers by mail or email, making it possible to record every dollar spent each month. By using a credit card, you have a recognizable paper trail which makes it possible to view how, where and when you used your credit card to make a purchase. Cash does not leave the same paper trail.

2. Rewards points – Rewards points accumulated for special purchases like gasoline or groceries make it possible to see just how much you spend on each category. While building rewards points for redemption, you’ll be able to see how quickly your points accumulate in various spending categories.

3. Automation – Credit cards can be used to automate routine monthly payments. Many people use a credit card to pay their bills automatically each month with online bill pay. Even apartment complexes are jumping on the credit card bandwagon, allowing renters to pay their bill conveniently online with their credit card, saving a stamp in the process.

Credit cards are not just for spending. Each month, a credit card gives an eagle eye’s view of how money flows in and out of your life. When used responsibly, a credit card makes saving and budgeting easier than ever.

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