Welcome to Day 7 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!
As part of the challenge, I’ve been sitting down every day around 8:30pm to spend 2-10 minutes recording our purchases. Because I’m recording in both You Need a Budget and in my: [download#8#nohits], it takes me twice as long to record.
This is all well and good as part of the challenge, but when February’s over the question will be “How often should I record, if at all?” There are so many paths I could take. I could enter everything manually but do it once a week. I could import files once a week and fix any miscategorizations. I could import files or enter spending once a month, but I don’t know if that would be as useful.
I think the way to figure out how to record is to decide what your goal is for the next period (month, year, etc). My goal is to be more conscious of our spending, not just whether or not we stay within the budget but what we actually spend our money on.
So how and how often I record our spending will need to support that goal. To maintain an active consciousness of our spending, I’d probably have to log purchases manually (which makes me more aware even than importing or fixing miscategorizations does).
The question next question, then, is about frequency. To be aware of how we’re spending, I should probably enter data about twice a week. If that turns out to be too infrequently to stay aware I could certainly change things up. It would help if I set up reminders using something like gopingme.com to remind me which days I should log.
So to determine method & frequency, one first determines a goal and works to find the best ways to support it.
What are your goals for the next year? What systems of tracking do you think will support those once “Where’s My Money Going?” Month is over?
This post was part of Where’s My Money Going? Month. Tomorrow is reader tips and roundups.