Tracking My Spending (or not…)
For most of 2009, I meticulously tracked my spending. In 2010, things were a bit more spotty, and in 2011, it seems I’ve completely given up. Oooops.
I don’t have to track my spending to make sure I have enough money in my accounts, or to make sure my budget balances at the end of the month. I’m used to a lifestyle that allows for savings with my current income. Still, I think tracking spending is important. It isn’t so much about keeping to a budget, but with seeing where my money goes, and making sure it lines up with my values.
And… I’m pretty sure there are some areas where I’m current spending money on things I don’t truly value. But if I don’t track it, I don’t have to deal with it. And it is SO MUCH EASIER to get a $5 footlong from subway and eat half today and half tomorrow (see, frugal!) than to actually have groceries on hand that make for good work lunches. Even though I used to do it all the time, I just can’t get back into it. If I don’t actually SEE that I spent more than I want to on lunches, then I don’t have to change it. Right?! (No. Not at all.) That is obviously not a real solution. But there it is.
The other big issue I’m having is that we didn’t completely merge money when we married, yet we sort of did… and it turns out that is just a confusing strategy. I wasn’t in a hurry to change something that was working for us, but it is now clear this is NOT working for us any longer. Now, I’m in a hurry to fix it.
February has 12 days left in it. My goal is to have our accounts merged and be ready to track our joint spending/income by March 1st. I know a lot of you track your spending. Do you do it the old fashioned way (spreadsheets)? The newer ways (Mint.com or yodlee.com)? Or the prehistoric way (pen and paper)? What’s your secret to success?