I noticed something when I was doing my Christmas shopping this year. Despite a sufficiently ample income, at the end of the day I didn’t feel like I had a lot to show for it.
I’ve fallen into the habit of frittering again. A little over budget on Christmas gifts here, some “I don’t feel like cooking” eating out there, a nearly routine Grande *insert name of overly sugary beverage here* on my way to work, a not actually necessary magazine… It was surprisingly easy to fall back into old routines. It was kind of scary too.
I do alright at preventing myself from buying more expensive items. If it hits a certain dollar value (that number fluctuates), I have no problems putting the brakes on, spending weeks if not months thinking about it, and budgeting accordingly. The small stuff however? That I have a hard time with. Most things under $6 or $7 don’t get a second thought, but they pack one hell of a wallop. If I frittered that amount of money every second day of the month, it would be around $100. It’s been easy to spend more than that though.
Why was it happening? It was happening because I wasn’t watching it. I made my budget every two weeks to make sure that money was being allocated to their proper locations. Was I actually following the budget? I have no idea. The fixed costs and bills were paid, the money allocated to savings went into savings, but the variable costs? I haven’t the foggiest idea if they were inside or outside of their allocated budgets. Fuel for my car was probably close, but my food costs were probably well over despite having allocated a very reasonable budget to it. They spilled over into other areas that I could have been using towards DIY projects at home, or new clothes.
Sitting at a Starbucks, Grande Salted Caramel Mocha in hand, I had an epiphany:
I have enough money to live well. I do not have enough money to live mindlessly.
That and my penchant for sweetened drinks was going straight to my midsection, but I digress.
If I kept spending money on little things here and there, it was going to be a lot harder to do my large ticket items like investing and travelling. If I didn’t start watching my money again, I was going to keep spending. Given that I really want to start investing and travelling again, it wasn’t really that hard of a choice.
So, come January I’m going to have to start keeping a spending diary for myself again, tracking all of my purchases. It was a huge help when I was paying off debt the first go around, and I understand better now how it will help me even once I’m out of debt (again).
Do you write down all of your purchases? How do you track your money?
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