Recording every penny you spend

Momma_Bird_OHApril 7, 2003

For the entire month of March, I recorded EVERY PENNY I spent (tip from How To Get Out Of Debt, Stay Out Of Debt, and Live Prospersly). Boy, what an eye opener. Even knowing you'll have to record it makes you think twice about spending every cent. I tabulated it up at the end of the month, and was shocked. I thought I was ultra-thrifty, but spent $76.62 on fast food, and $14.37 on newspapers, and $143.38 on kids sports fees & equipment. I would NEVER have guessed how much I actually spent.

I plan to keep this up, and let it make me even more aware of how I spend my $$. My April goal is no more than $20 in fast food.

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I've been doing the same thing (as of last month)! It truly is an eye-opener. It makes you feel accountable for everything you spend, right down to that Starbucks mocha I just *had* to have. I'm glad I started doing this, because it forces me to really see where our $$ is going (I, too, had thought I was doing a great job until I wrote it down!).

    Bookmark   April 8, 2003 at 2:36AM
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They say that dieting and budgeting are very similar. And the people who are the most successful at dieting are those who keep a food diary. When I am diligent at journaling, I, too, find surprises every time! We started doing something similar this month. I am putting all my purchases on my Visa so I can do a spreadsheet at the end of each month and see where my "miscellaneous" spending is. Groceries and bills are easy to budget, but the other spending really adds up to more.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2003 at 7:38AM
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What was the easiest way to get that done for you? I've tried in the past but I can never remember to carry a certain pad of paper with me everywhere :(

Azarae D.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2003 at 2:14PM
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If you make most purchases with a bankcard, when you log them in your checkbook you could also log them into a spreadsheet or whatever you use to track purchases. For cash expenditures, keep the receipts (even fast food) and log them at the end of each day. I don't carry around my logs, heck I don't even carry a purse, but I can fit the receipts in my wallet and record them at the end of each day. Or you could count your money at the beginning and end of each day and log the cash spent as "wasted" or some other category.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2003 at 8:01PM
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Exactly, Momma Bird and all,

Which is precisely the reason that most financial planners ask new clients to begin their "homework" there.

Most folks are surprised.

Then - it's not my business to "Tut-tut" - it's your money.

But - you need to know what you're doing with it - and whether that suits you.

If it does, keep on.

Except - that I'll ask some other questions to see whether there's some other issues that you might want to give a higher priority, if you'd thought of them.

And, when you think of them, decide to alter your spending/saving patterns somewhat.

Bet you'll feel more prosperous at year's end.

As though you got a substantial raise at work.

And - oh, joy! - no more income tax to pay: you didn't really get a raise, after all.

Just using your money more closely to the way you choose, now.

Good wishes, all, with your new adventure.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 1:51AM
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I am trying a method of only using my Visa for any misc. purchases. My bank web site will then let me download it into an excel spreadsheet.

For my diet, we use a folded piece of paper that has a fold for each day of the week. I have tried doing it in my Palm Pilot but I am more diligent with plain old paper and pen.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 7:45AM
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I like Ed's point about that the point is to spend your money on what you CHOOSE, and that you'll feel richer at year's end--even if you spend the same amount, as long as you're consciously spending it on the stuff you WANT to spend it on.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 1:24PM
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I've been doing this for 3 years now and it certainly is an eye-opener at first! I keep an excel spreadsheet that has a column for every category in my budget and a line for every day of the month. The columns total out at the bottom so that I can see if I am coming in over or under budget. My categories include: gas, groceries, eating out, clothing, lunch money and misc. household. I use a debit card almost exclusively so it is easy to track costs just by logging into my bank account.

This is a great way to see where the money is going each month and to set your budget according to where you might have more expenses in a particular month - for example, I budget more in my clothing budget in the month of August because I know I'm buying school clothes.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 4:21PM
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I record it manually. As I shop, I put my receipts in my wallet. At the end of the day, I record them into a notebook. (I note what category it falls in.) At the end of the week I add everything up according to categories: Groceries, outside dining, entertainment, bills, etc. No fancy spreadsheets. Very easy.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2003 at 1:59AM
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I also had another diet-related thought.

To be most successful at dieting/journaling, they say BEFORE you bite it, write it.

Something about writing down the "cost" in calories, etc before you eat it, keeps you more honest about cheating.

This cannot be done with ALL expenses, but a lot of them can be pre-thought out and written down before the money goes out.

I am thinking of trying this next month!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2003 at 7:44AM
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Here's another organizing way to do this: Cut several sheets of paper into dollar-bill-size pieces; you want to end up w/ 31 of them. (use a striking color so you can find it in your wallet easily.)

Carry 2 days' worth at a time, and pull them out at the end of the day (you could label each of them in advance; though you might be able to get 2 days of expenditures on a single sheet)

Then every day or two, pull a sheet out of your wallet (replace it w/ a fresh one), and clip them all together or consolidate, or whatever you're doing to evaluate them.

This would make it easier to track the sorts of spending *I* do--$2 for nuts, 50¢ for the paper, etc. (for the newspaper or stuff like it, which I buy every day, I could write "newspaper, 50¢ per" near the bottom and just add a tally mark under it each time I bought the paper.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2003 at 10:37AM
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TreKAREN, I need to try that!!! I just read how important it is to keep a food diary, but I like your idea of writing it down FIRST. Maybe I won't cheat then....LOL.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2003 at 3:21AM
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What I'm doing is carrying an envelope in my purse. I write the purchase on the front & put all receipts inside. I also have a cheap click pen inside so I'll always have a pen. I use one envelope per week. That's working great for me so far.

At the end of the month, I took all 4 envlopes and entered exerything into a spreadsheet I designed.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2003 at 7:58PM
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