Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Resource Management: Tracking Your Money

Down To Earth has a post today about managing your money. It is really good post, and my goal for the year is to basically do what she says in her post - which is: track your money, see what you could give up, make a budget, divide your expenses by 12, label Ziploc bags with your main categories, and put the cash into those items for the amount budgeted for that month.

But my goal for February is just to track my money. I wish I could find something like SparkPeople, but for money, where I could track my money, but I could also post about it, and have people respond and encourage me, and read people's blogs about their money journey, but for now, I'm just going to track it in Excel, although I'll have a small notebook in my purse for recording purchases. I will record EVERY purchase.

Rhonda says this about tracking your expenses:

"Most people know what they earn but very few can tell you, with accuracy, how much they spend each week. To work that out for yourself, you need to track your money. This is a real eye-opener. Get yourself a little notebook and pencil and take it with you every time you go out. EVERY TIME you spend something, write it and the price down in your notebook. If you buy an apple, groceries, a cup of coffee, a magazine - whatever, write it down. If you cheat on this, you're cheating yourself so please be accurate so you gain a genuine understanding of where your money is
going. You'll have a bit of an idea after a week, after a month your spending patterns will start to emerge. Who knew that having a cup of coffee five days a week would cost you about $750 a year. That's an extra mortgage payment. Tracking your money will clearly show you that all those tiny amounts add up to a lot of wasted chances to be debt-free. I'm not saying that you give up all your pleasures, but there are sacrifices to be made, you decide what you will sacrifice. And always keep in mind your long term goals - to be debt-free, to be able to work if and when you feel like it, to travel, to help your children, or whatever your goals are."

I always think I am so frugal, but the truth is that I probably buy at least 4 Diet Pepsi's a week. That is $6 a week, $24 a month, and almost $300 a year. Not a mortgage payment, but it is more than enough to pay for the car registration fees and home owner association fees that come due every year at the end of December. I'd love to be able to have money saved up to just be able to pay it instead of doing what I usually do, which is get all annoyed that I have to pay these things on top of Christmas gifts and other holiday expenses. Now, I'm not certain that I could ACTUALLY cut out Diet Pepsi completely, but maybe cut it in half to start out with? And then down to one a week? And then none? Maybe.

Or by tracking I may find another expense that would be slightly less painful to give up. I'll let you know what I find out . . .


Mary said...

Isn't money so hard? But compared to most of the world we have so much. We have been keeping track of our expenses for a couple of years now (everything!) but I don't know what the next step is. Also, about the diet soda, I was also stopping and getting something at Circle K on occasion and decided that buying the store brand by the bottle when it was on sale was the more frugal way to go, because who was I kidding, I still wanted it!

Whacky Wheelers said...

I go to Sam's Club and buy my soda and hide it away. When I "want" one . . . I put it in a container that I would normally drink my soda in and carry it with me. I have saved TONS of money because I have the soda with me during my errands. My goal this year is to cut down on the soda and eventually cut it out.