Welcome to Day 1 of “Where’s My Money Going?” Month. This February, I’m challenging readers (and myself) to track spending manually every day. This means somehow keeping a tally of every penny you spend.
You can gather receipts and write them on a piece of paper or document, use your online banking or financial software to copy information into a spreadsheet (don’t forget cash purchases). There is no one right way to track your spending, whatever works for you is better than not doing it at all. At this point, you don’t have to budget, just record. If you want an extremely basic spreadsheet, you can use this to track amount spent or earned, description, store, and category for each item: [download#12#nohits]
The purpose of this month is to make you aware of your spending habits and patterns. Using financial software to keep an eye on your spending and even following a budget isn’t the same as being really aware of where your money is going and evaluating whether or not you like where it’s going. Staying with the same budget year after year may keep you from thinking creatively about your financial life.
What you choose to do after this month, whether you continue manual tracking, change spending habits, keep doing everything the same way, I hope that it gives you a chance to think about your financial life. Knowing where your money goes means that you can control it.
If you want to track your spending manually this month, let me know in the comments! The best way to get the daily updates is to subscribe 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.
Other ways to get involved:
1) If you’re a blogger, write about what you’re doing and update your progress. I’ll include you in periodic roundups (and if I don’t, e-mail me a link to the post).
2) Share your story here! I’ve already had several people submit their stories and guest posts. I’d be happy to have more, either stories about what you’ve learned from tracking your spending before now or what you’ve discovered this month.
This post was part of Where’s My Money Going? Month. Tomorrow, I’ll post about what method I’m going to use to track our spending.