On my last net worth update, I declared that I would be tracking all of my expenses for the month of August.
Let me tell you right now – this is not easy. I almost want to throw in the towel already.
You see, every pay check, I withdraw a set amount of cash for “whatever I want”. Lunches that I bring back to my desk to eat, dinners with the BF after work, and any other little purchases here and there. Whenever I run out of cash, the idea is to stop spending until the next pay period. Simple, right?
However, I find myself spending much more than my allotted cash for the month. Once I run out of cash, and I see my credit card sitting in my wallet, I let myself swipe a few times until my next pay day.
No wonder the battle with my credit card debt just never seems to end.
Even as I started blogging, I’ve always avoided really tracking expenses because 1) it’s time-consuming, and 2) I was really scared of what I would find. In general, as long as I was saving and as long as I’m making progress on some of my debt, I felt like I was already ahead of the pack. But that simply isn’t true. I never really broke down all the numbers, never truly examined where each dollar is really going. Yes, I’m saving and yes, I’m getting rid of debt – but every month I still feel like I’m drowning.
Last month, J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy asked a question I always avoided asking myself: Do You Have Money Left Over Each Month? I don’t really know the exact numbers yet, but I know that at the end of each month I’m holding my breath until my next paycheck. I know I have an emergency fund in place in case anything goes wrong, but if my spending habits don’t change, then how long will that emergency fund last me? Not too long, I’m afraid.
So, this is why I’m going to commit to tracking expenses for August – so I can see if I have any money left over to throw at my goals or even if I’m in the red for the month. I’m scared to see what I’ll find, but I know that I can only get better once I know the full picture.
You can’t get better unless you know all the problems, right?
Do you think tracking expenses every month is important? Has it helped you?