Welcome to Day 5 of Where’s My Money Going? Month! This February 2009, I’m challenging readers (and myself) to track spending manually for 28 days. Don’t worry if you’re late to the party, the more the merrier!
Diane, a reader, asked a great question:
Just one question on this challenge – am I supposed to spend normally but track what I spend, or try to us this to control spending for the month?
Before answering, I’m going to backtrack a bit to my purpose for doing this month of financial tracking. My goal is to a) learn where my money is going, b) learn from my spending patterns and figure out where I can spend less if possible, and c) use a & b to build a reasonable budget that fits me now (I built the budget frame I had been using before over a year ago). I think most of you who’ve joined up share at least one part of my goal with me, probably all three parts.
So I think the right way to do it is in a way that makes sure you don’t miss out on b. If we change a spending habit, it’s important to recognize that we have that habit and we’re making that change. Otherwise, it might creep in again.
Later on this month, I’m going to write about looking over our spending logs from the month and how to evaluate them (and another post on creating a budget from the logs). But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing your habits now.
If you do, just recognize that you’ve done so and keep track of the changes you made (perhaps write down somewhere by your budget or in your budget file). That way you’ll be able to look at all of them together at the end of the month and you’ll see the big picture.
So spend normally for this month or start making changes as soon as you have the chance. Either way, what matters is that you keep track of it and are able to evaluate it all at the end of the month!
This post was part of Where’s My Money Going? Month. Tomorrow, I’ll give a brief spending report and reflect on the first week of tracking finances.