Having a detailed record of where your money goes is as important to money management as is bringing home a paycheck. It’s called a spending record and it’s a necessary step in moving forward and creating a Spending Plan (or Budget… I like the term Spending Plan as opposed to Budget. Budget’s scare me).
In my discovery of how crucial spending records can be, I was simply amazed at the results of this task. Most importantly, you will begin to see (like I did) just how much money leaks from your lives.
You will begin to see in black and white exactly where your money goes. This will paint a realistic picture of your current spending situation and habits. By following these three simple steps you will have an accurate account of what happens to your money.
Be prepared to discover just how much you waste, spend frivolously, buy impulsively, pick up unnecessarily and so on.
Take these steps to wake up from your “spending coma” and plug those leaks:
Step 1: Grab Some Supplies
All you need is a small notebook, index card or other paper of your choice, and a pen (or pencil). I used a little notebook we had laying around the house. You will use this to conveniently record your spending.
Step 2: Track Your Spending
Through out the day as you spend cash, swipe plastic, write a check or make an online purchase with Pay Pal, you will write down the details of your transaction. What for and how much? …for the next 30 days.
No cheating. If you’re married, each of you should be tracking all your spending every day. We did it by updating a notebook at the end of each day. We had to remind each other, it worked perfectly.
Tally up each week by combining like expenses, totaling them and then categorizing them (groceries, rent, gas etc).
So, at the end of each week you should total it all up… Days 1-7, 8-14, 15-21 and 22-end of month.
Here’s a sample spending record for you to print if you like.
Step 3: Evaluate Spending Record
Now you will begin to find the leaks. Take a close look at your spending and mark the ones that can be reduced significantly (likely food…restaurants?). Find the places where money is being poured out of your life.
Once you identify all the leaks you can begin to talk about plugging them. Reducing lots of areas a small amount will add up to something significant.
What to do…
- Complete steps 1-3, start today. It’s painless, really.
- In the comments below, tell me what you think are your biggest leaks?
- Share this article if you think it was useful.