“Ok!” I said to myself while shopping at the Dollar Tree in Paw Paw, MI. “This time I am going to do it! I am going to keep track of my spending.”
I was in the school supply section when my eyes scanned down to the perfect notepads to put in my fanny pack and keep track of my spending. I wasn’t going to get extra pens but I spotted “forever” writing bic pens that were 10 for a buck. They were guaranteed to write no matter what. None of the other pens made that kind of promise, and they weren’t on the best seller list like these ones were, either. How could I go wrong?
Even though I had several little notepads to keep track of my spending that I had brought from garage sales and the like, I was going to get these pads because this time I was definitely going to keep track of my spending. Right there. Right now. I also want to put my spending for the month in my budget monthly book, so I can see on at least one page, from time to time, where my money is going.
Writing down all my spending so far this week or so, I could see that I had spent $79.29 so far. That’s from not budgeting from McDonald’s, Family Fare and Walmart. I guess I just figured, oh well, I will just put it on the credit card. So, I figured I will limit my McDonald’s spending to $2 and my Family Fare money to $5. I will have to write a list ahead of time of the needs from Walmart and stick to that list. No junk food and no pop. I figure if I write down ahead of time, budget and estimate what I will spend I should be good. At least think about what I am spending instead of after the fact. Not just throw everything in the cart, ring it up and then after I have spent the money write it down in my notepad. I want to write it down before I even hit the cash register at the store, know what my budget is and then plan and edit out my spending accordingly. I still need to separate my wants from my needs. I definitely need to lock up my credit cards and put them away before going shopping. It should be a cash only endeavor.
I know I need to keep track of the little things such as bus fare and printing out fees I need for my blog. I need to write those things down as they do add up from time to time and figure out the best way to get all those things together and find a way to save more money then I already have. I need to think ahead of time of how I am going to use the bus and the printer at the library ahead of time and find ways of not using those expenses at all or at least trim down the expenses.
Saturday seems to be a hump day for me. I know if I can make it past Saturday I am pretty much smooth sailing from there. I don’t spend too much Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are mostly no spend days as I spend the majority of my time at Hope Center Clubhouse unless something comes up and then I know I have to be extra careful that I don’t whack out and spend. I know I will definitely spend if I know I have a credit card to fall back on. And I won’t just spend on the credit card but it will be a big spend that blows my budget out of the water. I have to have a set amount of cash on me and that is it. That is all I will spend. That is usually around $20 or so. I set aside $20 a week and $100 a month.
If I don’t have the money for a big ticket item, I should plan accordingly and know how I am going to save up for that big ticket item. Not just put it on the credit card, but to think about exactly what I am doing. For example, if I am saving for a car, I put $192 a month in a savings account and $200 a month into stocks. I have substitutes so I don’t buy junk food or pop. I try to buy as little food as possible and live on what I got. I try to go through my food pantry before I buy more food.
I like to say to myself just because I have a day off doesn’t mean I have to go out and spend. I try to think of as much stuff to do at home as I possibly can such as reading, writing and cleaning up and organizing my apartment. Sometimes I can just go to a friend’s apartment to listen to music, watch tv or just sit around and talk.
I am carless so I don’t have to set money aside for gas, insurance, maintenance or repairs of the car. The bus fare is adding up so I have to be careful of that. I should walk more if I have to especially when the weather is nice. When I pay bills such as phone and utilities, I have to walk there. I could just mail those bills, but the price of stamps are going up too. As much as 50 cents or more to buy just one stamp. The bus fare is only 50 cents a ride. I do mail my rent and credit card bills. I managed to get a local bank that is close by so I can walk there, if I need to cash a check and put it in my savings account. I also get my quarters from them too.
I am especially going to have to keep track of my spending during the holidays, vacations and special occasions. I can’t just whack out and spend blindly putting everything on my credit card. I need to keep thinking about delayed gratification and not have spontaneous spending. I need well thought out strategies to save money and not to spend any more than I have to.
I know I will need to brainstorm ways to track my money. I need to track transportation, food, pets, bus fare, printing, misc. spending, ect. I need to put it all in one section of my budget book and study it very careful.
I know I want to keep a spending diary to track what went wrong, what went right and more important how does it make me feel? What lessons have I learned from this tracking whether they are positive, negative, ect. How can I purposely plan ahead to prepare for spending traps and find better ways to save and spend money. I should plan a week ahead to see if I can prepare to save and fail to spend.
I try to look at my track spending booklet 4 or 5 times a day and not just record what I spend afterwards but before, so my spending is premeditated. I want to look at my budget book at least once a day and have a meeting with myself of what went right, wrong or whatever. Am I on track with my financial goals? A meeting of what happened, what will happen and ways to prevent spending.
Before I go into a store, I want to estimate how much I will spend instead of just spending and then writing it down. Did I go over or under or somewhere in between? To give myself an allowance of what I will spend at each place that I go to – Family Fare say $5, Walmart make a list of what needed and estimate an allowance for that. Make a future list, if needed, so next time go to store have a list ready, ect.