Using a Notebook to Track Expenses

excerpts from a Dollar Stetcher article by Joey Shanley  

I had tried everything from carrying only a limited amount of cash on me to an envelope system of budgeting. But I always ran out of money and I always ended up using (and sometimes over-using) my check card.Spending only came under control once I got serious about logging every single purchase that I made. Enter my spending log. My little green notebook. My spiral bound conscience sits deep inside my bag at work or on my desk at home. When I carry it with me, every time I make a purchase, I log how much I spent in the notebook to the penny. Whether I have used my ATM, a credit card or cash, it doesn’t matter. It all goes into my log…

If you log your purchases and your expenses for any amount of time, you will find that it turns into a fun yet intellectually involved game: You vs. your money. Every time you pull out that notebook to jot down a purchase, you actually think and re-think whether you really need the latte, the hamburger, or even the haircut. I have become that fanatical with trying to save a dollar wherever I can.

At the end of the month, I open up an Excel spreadsheet and group my purchases into the five general budgetary areas. I deftly scrutinize my spending to see how much money was frivolously spent on items that I should have scrimped on (like how much money I spent on lunches out when I knew I had food at home)…For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have control over my money instead of my money having control over me.

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July 28, 2006. Resource Management.

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