Calculate Net Worth. Check. Wallow in misery because net worth is negative. Check. Take an action step towards the future I want…OK, we’re getting there!
Before we get into that action step of how to track spending, I want to have a little check in. How are you feeling at this point? I want to acknowledge all the things you’ve done this far. OK? So…
- You’ve spent time investigating how to become intentional with your finances.
- You’ve likely had 1 or 2 or 10 other failed attempts at creating a budget.
- You’ve become open to another way of thinking.
- You’ve calculated your Net Worth.
- You’re interested in and willing to perform the next step: Track Spending
- You’ve begun dreaming of a future you want for you and your family. (If you haven’t done this, please don’t skip this step. It’s critical to moving towards where YOU want to go – otherwise you’re just moving). Get my Defining Your Values Workbook FREE here.
A critical step in becoming more intentional with your financial life is to change your behavior. What you’re currently doing likely isn’t working (or you wouldn’t be here, right?!). But even before behavior change, we need to figure out what behaviors we need to change to get the results we want. Remember, we’re doing everything with intention here. We’re not just going to cut expenses without really deciding what’s specific and best for you and your family.
A spending tracker is just the thing to get you some data to help figure out where changes need to and can be made. Remember, we began tracking our spending about 10 years ago, so, because it was the dark ages technologically, we just went with an excel spreadsheet and kept every single receipt so we could track every penny.
Thank goodness it’s 2017 and there are so many more options available at this point!
At this point, our family has switched to YNAB. We’ve been using it for about 5 years now. We absolutely love it. It’s free for 34 days, so you can give it a try to see if you like it.
Mint.com is another personal finance tracker. We went straight from excel spreadsheets to YNAB, so I don’t have much advice on whether mint is good or not. There are all kinds of free or low-cost apps out there for your phone.
It might be worth it to just choose something free to track for this first month just to test things out. You might find you like to manually enter receipts into the app or you may find you’d rather clean your toilets with a toothbrush than have to do anything manually. To each her own. No judgment. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and keep with it!
Honestly, what you use doesn’t matter. Use pen and paper for goodness sake. Just figure out a way to begin tracking your spending so you can begin seeing your spending habits. This tracking is to make visible that you’re spending too much on coffee (gasp!) or clothes or throw pillows, or kids’activities or groceries (groceries are crazy expensive and this one is always shocking!).
Tracking your expenses will also help you to figure out where to make adjustments to your spending thus allowing for changes that will move your net worth towards the positive – or increase its positivity if you’re already positive. (Kudos to you, BTW!)
Once you’ve tracked your spending for at least a month, move on to the next step: Budgeting 101 | How to Create a Budget with Intention.
This is it. Budgeting and living within your means will Change. Your. Life.
Alright. Get tracking. Let me know if you have any questions or leave a comment on how it’s going for you!
You got this!