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Where’s My Money Going? Month

Dear readers, I’m excited. This February, I’ll be doing “Where’s My Money Going?” month right here on! No, you aren’t out of the loop because you’ve never heard of it before, it’s something I came up with after reading your thoughts on tracking spending manually.

What will “Where’s My Money Going?” month include?

The focus will be on knowing where our money is going (yeah, you got that from the title, right?) and how to better track and control it.

For one thing, there will be tools! I’ll be including spending-tracking spreadsheets (my own and linking to other people’s posts), budget spreadsheets (again mine and others), reviewing various budgeting/tracking software programs (free and paid), and looking for other tools to help you control your money.

I’ll be writing about theories of budgeting and tracking money, reflections on the ups and downs, and maybe sharing some other people’s stories (see below!).

This will also include a commitment on my part. Throughout February, I’m going to switch from using programs (ok, I’ll have those running too) to tracking everything we spend by hand. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will be posting some of the things I lean, expenses that surprised me, and maybe the occasional “what we spent today” at the bottom of a post.

Want to participate? There are lots of ways to get involved.

1) Join me! Don’t track your spending? Use software? Join me in tracking it manually for just a month. Entering data into a spreadsheet or other file gives you a completely different look at your spending patterns. Everything is up close and real, not just numbers on a computer.

If you’re a blogger and decide to join in “Where’s My Money Going” month and mention it on your blog (and contact me if it doesn’t leave a trackback), I’ll include you in one of my roundups. No, there aren’t prizes (yet, we’ll see!) but it’s a huge gift to yourself. If you’ve already written about it

2) Share your story. I’m looking for stories or guest posts. Has budgeting changed your life? What have you learned about yourself by monitoring what you spend? What are your goals for this year (related to the matter at hand, of course)?

If you’d like to share your story, get in touch with me and I may include it on the blog.

3) Subscribe! No pressure, but if you’d like to jump on this bandwagon, the best way to keep up to date on the posts is subscribing to the site’s free feed. If you want to get new articles via an RSS reader, click here to subscribe. If you’d rather get them in your e-mail, click here to subscribe. And if this whole thing sounds boring, then consider subscribing in March! πŸ˜‰

{ 6 trackbacks }

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Christine January 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

“Consider subscribing in March.”

Hee hee.

Allison January 28, 2009 at 10:58 am

I did just that in September ’07, and the results as to where my money was going were shocking. I use Mint to keep track of everything, and don’t use cash very often, but it’s hard to keep track of my restaurant and other small expenditures that I normally pay for in cash if I don’t carefully track it. There were just so many small expenses that I wasn’t considering (like coffee several times a week) that could easily be cut out or reduced. Kudos to you and good luck in February!

PT Money January 28, 2009 at 4:23 pm

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this. I’m a big fan of manually tracking occasionally and definitely at first just to have a firm grasp of everything. I’ll have a couple of spreadsheets to contribute.

Tom January 30, 2009 at 12:47 am

Hmmm, I haven’t manually tracked in years.
Having said that, even though I use software, for 3 months this year, I neglected to check my reports closely (I was just tired) and my spending got out of control.

Ken February 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I have done this exercise before. It was enlightening. I did it when I went through a money management called Crown Ministries. I don’t think I will do it this month, but it is a good practice. I look forward to the results on your blog.

Diane February 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Okay, I’m in. As Frugal Dad said, at least its a short month… Since today is the 1st and I haven’t left the house all day, I’ve got one day under my belt.

I do track all my regular monthly bills to the penny on a home made excel spreadsheet.

I also save every receipt – cash, charge, debit, whatever. I just don’t add up or track the misc. cash expenses & debit card uses.

I’ll get a small notebook to write it all down and see where it leads. It should be interesting!

mrsmicah February 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm

@Allison, I think it’s been about a year since I’ve done it. Excepting things will have changed.

@PT, hoping you’ll share those spreadsheets!!

@Tom, that’s happened to me as well. I went through a period where I was afraid to look. We did quite well, but I had no idea whether we were doing well or not….in retrospect it was scarier than looking.

@Ken, thanks! πŸ™‚

@Diane, awesome, welcome aboard. Sometimes I wonder if a low-tech option like a notebook might not be the best option. Simple can be better, especially if it makes it easier to get things done.

LaTanya February 2, 2009 at 5:29 pm

This is something that I have been wanting to do for a while (like the last 4 years!). I just really started seriously using coupons and watching our spending a little more closely and this is the next step. So, count me in!

Jason February 4, 2009 at 2:37 am

I haven’t been closely monitoring my spending (although I have been keeping a much closer eye on my overall spending in the last few months), so this will be an interesting experiment I think. I’m certainly in πŸ™‚

Ca Girl February 4, 2009 at 10:54 am

I’ve been doing this for a bit over a year. I started out with an accounting book from the drugstore, then moved to Pear Budget. I found that the categories weren’t that useful, so I created my own excel spreadsheet. Not only do I track all of my spending and can add categories as needed (added a travel row when we took a vacation last year), but I also track spending my fiance does for shared items so it shows how much we spent on groceries, etc. as a household. I add notes at the bottom so I can always see why I spent so much in a certain category – $25 for coffee in one pay period? Oh, I had to drive to an outside meeting at an ungodly hour every day for a week… I track it by pay periods. At the bottom of the sheet, I also track my monthly balances on loans and credit cards so I can see at a glance whether I’ve increased or (hopefully!) decreased my debt. I went ahead and added in the totals for my savings accounts and investments so I can see my net worth (cash only, not including posessions) each month. It’s very useful; for instance, I can see that I only spent $575 for gas in SoCal in 2007 – makes me even happier that I bought a Prius.

Diane February 4, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Ca Girl – Sounds great! Congratulations on the Prius~!

I also have a spreadsheet I created to track monthly expenses by pay period, but I’ve been using that for major fixed expenses only.

I’ve been writing my daily expenses in a notebook for this challenge, but I think I’m going to start my own spreadsheet to track the categories.

I know what you mean about unusual expenses – I’ve already spent way more this month than I ever spend on prescriptions, but my younger son has the flu right now, so it skews things. Got to take that into account…

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