This is a series following my experience tracking my expenses through January. I’m exploring this cash flow management technique with an eye towards what it feels like to write down every single time I spend money. It’s not that people don’t know how to track their expenses (the nuts and bolts are not particularly difficult), but there are buckets full of internal obstacles that make the practice very difficult.
I’m posting about the experience so when you try tracking your spending (because slaying ignorance leads to more budgeting peace of mind) you’ll know you’re not alone, this stuff is hard, but hopefully in the end tracking your spending is worth it.
There’s good news and bad news. And then some more good news.
I tracked my spending, from plane tickets to parking meters (and lots of groceries as you’ll remember) for a solid 16 days.
I somehow rationalized not tracking my spending starting on the 17th. I don’t think I spent very much, but I don’t remember at all. Drawing a complete blank. In total I missed 5 days.
I started again on Sunday! Because nothing in budgeting is a , and that includes tracking spending. When I teach classes on money management I always emphasize this point. Changing habits, even if we really want to, is hard work. And so even small triumphs should be celebrated. Instead of getting angry at myself for lapsing this past week, I decided to get back on the horse and finish the month out strong. There are still 9 days of juicy information-on-my-spending-habits goodness waiting for me.
Sunday, January 22 I spent $10 at Whole Foods for a few extra ingredients for chicken paprikash. (It finally snowed here, and this is a traditional Hungarian stew). I also spent $10 on a ukulele book for my cousin.
Side note: I did take the time to copy my first 16 days of spending into an Excel sheet and do some analyzing. I felt pretty good about what it told me. The majority of spending in the first two weeks were miscellaneous expenses from traveling and then hosting my brother for a few days. I allot myself $200/ month in grocery spending and I’ve got the right amount of money left to get me through to February. Although the actual tracking has been hard, the numbers I crunched have not been as scary as I expected them to be.
Stay tuned for my next update!