Tracking spending – the old fashioned way
Have a savings goal? Having trouble tracking why you haven’t yet reached it? Consider a savings journal. I’m not a journaler by nature myself, but even I have to admit that I’d be lost without mine. Keeping what you spend written down helps you keep track of spending in a way that no bank statement can, so long as it’s kept up to date.
This article will go over some tips to not only keep a journal, but to keep the best and most accurate one that you can keep.
Make it simple
The easier your finance journal is to write in, the more likely you will be to actually write in it. It can be as simple as “date” and “amount” if you’d like (though I recommend having a purchase column too, to see what you actually spent on). The journal only needs to help you track initially.
Write down spending. All spending.
It may be tempting to leave out that purchase you wish you never made, but the truth is that you did make it and it is part of your financial track record now. So record it. This type of honesty forces us to not only see where we’ve let ourselves down, but also to keep track of our habits – really a great idea when trying to break bad ones and nurse good ones.
Be consistent in your journaling
If you’re going to do this you may as well do it right. Write down every single purchase you make, really be honest, open, and consistent in your record keeping. This is the only way that the journal makes any sense, it can’t teach you about the purchases you forgot to record (or willingly omitted).
Analyze your journal
At the end of the month (maybe even the week) take a look at your journal. How is your spending? Where is it regularly going to? Are you saving more or wasting more? Your journal is a complete guide to how you spend, so use it to understand your habits and break them if necessary.
If you journal, you’re going to end up saving. It forces you to look honestly and carefully at your spending habits, and this is a great way to motivate yourself to be better.
Try journaling for a month. It’s only a month, and you’ll be blown away by the difference it makes. Use the journal to challenge yourself!