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Tracking my values

August 13, 2008

I have a spreadsheet, and I’ve been tracking each expenditure since March. In May, I started adding in a column with almost all of my grocery expenditures.  Well, all the ones that I feel like entering.

This can be automated through Mint and Yodlee, but I like to have control over the framework, so I never got into either program (though I use Yodlee regularly for net worth and to remind me if I didn’t keep receipts).

Some people find this tedious, others just think it is unnecessary. I don’t find it time consuming. Sure, five minutes adding something in at the end of a day (or whenever I get around to it) adds up, but I waste much more time doing much less productive and helpful things.  For example, perusing blogs…

Wisebread‘s Phillip Brewer published an article a few days ago a couple weeks ago (I started this post a long time ago!) which talked about the real reason people should track their spending–to find out if their spending reflects their values. And he said it much better than I could have.

I’m somewhat shocked to realize that my clothing budget of $70/mo has been a challenge. That is not that small, and should provide me with plenty of money to get all the things I need.  Do I really value clothes at $100/mo? Or more?   No, but my spending doesn’t (yet) reflect that.

Rent is by far my biggest expense, and that is saying I value privacy, independence, a short commute, and safety. Still, I find it much too high, and am thrilled about a new development that might allow T and I to move in together as soon as January at just under $1000 for both of us, together.  (Tentative, but I just can’t help but sketch out a make-believe budget of how much we could save!  I call it my “dream” budget!)

My biggest line item is my efund savings and retirement savings, showing that I value security and planning for my future. This is true, though boring. I think I’m especially nervous right now, due to the somewhat uncertain fate of my department this fall.

Travel is only at $100/mo right now, but I’m going to increase it as soon as I can. I’m not even building up my travel fund with the goal of an amazing vacation (though when we can afford that, I will), but I need the ability to visit my family and to take smaller trips within driving distance of where I live (because there is a lot of beauty right in my backyard).  I need a budget for “Long Term Travel”, saving up for a big huge trip separate from my little trips to go home and weekend get aways

Do you know what my entertainment budget is? About $50, but I spent about $100 (!) last month due to various events.  I do like going out, but I honestly can’t afford to go out as much as I’d like.  Not only do you need the clothes, but you need the cab, the drinks, the cover (maybe), and the willingness to waste the next morning in bed.  It just isn’t a priority.

Why do I waste my time tracking every expense?  Because it helps me to ensure I’m spending in line with my values.  Why do you (or don’t you) track your spending?  Are you sure you are spending within your values?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2008 11:16 am

    I really like the idea of your spending reflecting your values. I think that’s very true of me too. I’ve just started tracking my spending- to make sure that I stay within my budget.

  2. August 14, 2008 3:59 pm

    I think tracking your financial status is essential. I started really doing so in June of this year. And now, I am trying to make my family realize that we do not have money to keep living with the means we do! Time to erradicate some of that materialistic stuff we have. Nice blog!

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