How to Keep A Spending Journal

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You have heard this so many times-write down every penny you spend. You may have shunned the idea for years thinking you are already busy enough, you don't need another task. That means you either have enough money that it does not matter what you spend, or you are broke, and don't know why. If it's the second half of the last sentence, it is time for you to keep a spending journal.

Things You'll Need

  • Journal
  • Pen
  • 10 minutes a day, or less
  • Commitment
  • Purchase a journal that will be for the purpose of writing all expenses, or use something you already have. Once you have decided what you are going to use, commit to writing down your expenses every time you spend. Review your spending journal the same time every evening. You may also want to post this to a program on your home computer.

  • Write it down! If you stop to get fuel on your way to work, write it down. Did you spend money for lunch while away from home? Write it down. Any money you spend on the way home, even if it is for household items, or groceries, write it down. All transactions, whether cash, debit, or credit card, should be written in your spending journal.

  • Continue to keep track. At the end of each day, write a total at the bottom of the page. After the first week, write a total for the week. When the first month ends, write a total for that month. Continue in this manner until you need another journal.

  • Stick to your plan. What time of day did you decide is best for you to check your spending journal? Look at any receipts you have. Was everything written in the journal correctly? Once you have done this for a few days, it will become such a habit, you won't think twice about doing it. In fact, you may wonder why others don't do it. It will be such an eye opener-now you can see where the money goes!

  • Be true to this effort. In a few days you will see places where you can cut back on expenses. Some entries will practically jump out of the journal at you. Wow! Could you really be spending that much on lunches? Should groceries cost that much money? Even if you still feel broke, at least you can see at a glance why you are broke.

  • For your final step, now that you know what is happening with your money, look for places to cut back expenses. Even if you manage to save as little as $10 every week, that is money you will have for something else. Now, think about telling others to give this a try.

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