There’s a great deal of resistance out there to tracking your spending. I suspect that’s either because people think it’s going to be tedious, or because they don’t want to “have” to worry about every little thing — like getting a candy bar from the vending machine.
In other words, it feels restrictive, and like a chore.
But tracking your spending can change your life. That’s because the real purpose of tracking your spending is to give you insight into what you’re actually doing (instead of what you think you’re doing.)
That can shock you into action.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. A few weeks ago, I started using a pedometer. For the first week, I just went about my days like normal, and made a note of the number of steps at the end of each day. My goal was to see what was a typical number of steps for me.
It turned out that I was walking anywhere from 2000-2500 steps a day. Which puts me in the sedentary range. (Ouch.) But what really got me was the weekend. I had no idea I was such a slug! I didn’t even hit 1,000 steps on that first Saturday.
Sunday, I got up and walked a mile. That’s being shocked into action. (I’m now walking at least 2 miles a day, which is about 4600 steps for me.)
And all it took for me to change was a little bit of tracking.
Tracking your spending is a tool
Like that pedometer, tracking your spending is a tool that can allow you to see what’s going on in your life. You may think that you’re using your money the way you’d planned, but you will only know for sure if you actually check.
And if you find out that you aren’t doing quite what you’d intended with your money, you can use that tool to verify that you’re making the changes you want to make.
Tracking your spending isn’t about being restrictive, or about getting a money-related chore done. Instead, it’s about getting information — and then using that information to help you become successful.
You don’t have to do it forever either, although you might want to because it can actually become fun. At a minimum, I’d suggest doing a little spending checkup once or twice a year.Posted in Money Management on 01.30.12 with 24 comments.