Backyard BBQs, picnics at the lake, long awaited vacations to theme parks, beaches, or faraway places—these are our summer rituals and we deserve every minute of fun in the sun and relaxation.
And it seems opportunities to spend are everywhere. Souvenirs, food, new luggage or beach towels. Don’t forget the plane tickets or gas for the car or RV. Have you ever started your day with plenty of cash in your wallet for these kinds of things only to find by night that you can’t remember where it all went?
Maybe, like the majority of us these days, you prefer plastic over cash. Have you ever checked your bank balance thinking you had a certain amount waiting for you only to be disheartened by your low account balance? You’re not alone.
Here’s a sad but true fact; Most people cannot account for how they spend their money. We live in a financial fog, disconnected from the real numbers and unable to understand our own actions.
What’s needed is a way to stay conscious and connected to our money. And one of the easiest ways to do this is with tracking. I know, I know, that word has all sorts of negative connotations but before you run screaming from the room read a bit more and see why it’s so important and how it can be easy.
First of all, tracking is my favorite financial fog buster. It is a wildly successful simple process.
All you need is a pen and paper and a touch of curiosity. And all you have to do is this: Every time you spend or receive money, you write it down. Not in the moment, sitting with your friends having a drink or dinner, that would be weird. Later, when you get home. Or, once per day or even every few, at a certain time to help make it a habit.
You may be thinking, "Tracking is too time consuming, too tedious—and besides, only people with ‘money problems’ have to track their expenses." Resistance is normal, after all, anytime we want to change or incorporate a new habit our old self protests—loudly!
And hear this loud and clear, money tracking is not just for those with money problems. And, I can assure you if you aren’t looking at your financial numbers, you run the risk of finding yourself with money problems. Besides do you really want to be surprised by how little is left at the end?
On a very deep level tracking your numbers tells a story about you. It will reveal truths about you, your habits, and your behaviors, in black and white, that are… uncomfortable. Some of you will feel shame or guilt. Let those feelings go.
My suggestion to you is to see tracking as a wise teacher. Remember, no one is punishing you for "bad" spending.
This is about you, taking the first step to becoming informed about where your money goes.
One of my past clients Rebecca, had assets in the millions, and I still recall her saying, "People are stunned when I tell them I track my spending. But I love the immediate feedback I get with tracking—it is a barometer for my relationship with money."
Tracking brings you back to consciousness, clears out the fog. It helps you become aware of how you use money. And with this awareness, you become capable of making strong choices in the future. Your bank balance will never be a surprise—unless of course you spend less and it’s bigger!
This week, I urge you to track your spending. Just give it a try and see what story uncovers for you. As I said you can use a simple pad of paper, Google or Excel sheet and list everything you spend each day. Or, I’ve made it super simple for those of you who need structure and some guidance. It’s called Money Minder Online. It’s a spending tracker, spending planner, and net worth growth tool all in one. And it’s only $9 per month. It might be just the right tool at the right moment for you.
And if you own a business, tracking can be a powerful tool for your long-term success. There’s a Money Minder Online version for you too.
Life is meant to be lived. We deserve nice things, a safe and comfortable living space, and time to relax either away or at home. And that takes money. Living in a financial fog means we can never really relax and it might mean missing out on things entirely if the money runs out.
Give yourself the gift of getting to know your numbers. They tell a story. Let’s make sure you get a happy ending!