This six-part series looks at personal and professional spending for planners. If you need to catch up, please follow these links.
- Week 1: A planner’s friend: Tracking spend
- This week: Where does all the money go?
- Week 3: Mindfulness is the key to smart money
- Week 4: Show me the money!
If you didn’t read last Monday’s article on budgeting and fiscal responsibility, and you want to become master of your personal and professional finances, click here, catch up and then come back. Without the first article this one doesn’t have as much meaning. I’ll wait for you.
Now, pull out your Excel grid. Make sure you tallied not just your total spend, but what you put your dollars toward. First question: How close was your top-of-the-head guestimate to the actual figure? Second question: When you reviewed where your dollars were going, were you surprised? Sometimes we’re completely unaware of something until we pay closer attention.
For some, the data may unlock the mystery as to why we can’t lose those extra 10 pounds. Starbucks, with whip, anyone? For others, seeing how much is spent on cigarettes each week is motivation enough to quit. For others it isn’t where the money was spent, but the sheer total that gives a reason to pause.
If you weren’t pleased with what you learned, read on. If you’re on track with how much you spend and what you spend it on, keep reading anyway. Learning one new thing a day is all it takes to achieve personal growth.
OK, for those of you unhappy with where your dollars go, take a moment to analyze the spend. Is there an alternative readily available? Think coupons, brown bagging, indulging every other day on what’s now a daily habit, etc. If your spend is on an essential item, like gas, check the air pressure in your tires because improperly inflated tires reduce gas mileage. Pay with cash at certain stations and get a small discount, car pool, have a friend drive, obey the 55 mph speed limit, which was created in part to maximize gas mileage. There are thousands of money-saving tips and tricks out there. Google it. You might be amazed at how many easy solutions await you.
Repeat the exercise for a second week. This time, tally your spend at the end of each day as well as at the end of the week. Keep track of what you’re buying and if you really want to learn something, document what you were feeling when you made the purchase. (Rushed, sad, happy, lonely, starving, angry. Whatever comes to mind.)
Write down your target total spend. If you were unhappy with last week’s figure, what would be a more appropriate number? If you were happy with last week’s number, challenge yourself to reduce the total spend by either an overall percentage or a dollar amount and write that down.
Go forth and spend, looking forward to next week’s check-in. I bet that something interesting will take place when you revisit your next set of numbers.
Want to ask a question, comment or just join the conversation? Email me at: email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
NEXT WEEK: Save it for later