I started tracking my spending about two months ago, but I didn't notice much of a change in the total amount I was spending. I realized the main ingredient missing was accountability. My husband agreed to read my spending diary to help me get back on track with my savings and spending goals. At first, I was intimidated by the idea of my husband knowing the intimate details of my finances. Did he really need to know about my daily trips to the coffee shop, especially since I could brew my own coffee at home? I didn't really want him to know about the amount of money I waste at the plant nursery or the extra cash I take out at the grocery store to pay for miscellaneous things. According to a recent article by Credit.com, research shows tracking spending can lead to a wealthier and healthier life.
Tracking every penny
I found out the reason I was overspending had a lot to do with the mysterious "miscellaneous" category. My husband helped me to think more carefully about how I was spending my cash withdrawals. Even though experts say people spend less money when they use cash instead of credit, I found the opposite is true for me. Because using cash can be so anonymous, I tend to burn through it. When I spend money with my debit card, I have a record of my spending. The key for me was to read through the receipts and online statements.
Strengthening my willpower
Experts have found people who record spending gain a stronger willpower. They often before more productive at school and work as well as spend less money on indulgences. Since using a food diary works for helping me lose weight, it makes sense that a spending diary could strengthen my resolve to stay on a budget.
Feeling the pain of spending
For me, it was uncomfortable and unpleasant to have my husband review my spending diary. But, it helped me to balance out the pleasure I got from buying things. I didn't always walk away from purchases, but it made me think about buying fewer items and getting better deals. Experts say people who don't track their spending and put everything on credit cards have nothing to keep them in check. They only feel the pleasure associated with spending and forget about the fact that they will eventually have to pay the credit card bill.
Although it would only be fair to read my husband's spending diary, I don't think it is necessary. For him, there is already enough pain associated with stepping into a shopping mall. He rarely has a problem with going over budget. After reading my spending journal for about a month, he told me I was on my own. Evidently, my shopping purchases have become too boring to hold his interest. Maybe that's a good sign.
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