Thursday, January 10, 2008

Keep a financial journal

Tonight's going to be a short post, but one I think that will be powerful. Just like good things come in small packages (though my wife would say I'm a good thing that came in a big package, as I stand 6'5"), sometimes powerful words come in short posts.

Today's tip for saving money is to keep a financial journal.

A what?!? Yeah, you heard me, a financial journal. And no, it doesn't have to have a cute little heart on it, with a small locking clasp and really small key, that you have to keep hidden from your nosy little brother.

Personally, I had problems spending money. By nature I just LOVE to spend. I could not for the life of me find anywhere to cut corners on though, when i made the decision to cut back and save where I could, so I could have money to put into savings, so I could invest, and so I could get out of debt.

This is where the journal came in extremely handy. By simply writing down what I spent, when and where I spent it, and what I spent it on, I started to see patterns. I also started to tally the amounts up, and started to see some pretty significant figures. All those purchases were starting to hurt...they felt like a thousand cuts (ok, that was a shameless, gratuitous plug for yesterday's post).

Alright, now I have the information, you say, what do I do with it? Simple...look it over, and find the one spending pattern you can do without (we can really do without most of them, but we think we can't...that's why we spend in the first place), and stop spending that way. Whatever it is, make a small change in your habits, and focus on that one change, until it becomes a POSITIVE habit. When you have control over that spending habit, choose the next easiest one to give up from the remaining list. Sooner than you realize, you will have knocked that list down, and changed your spending habits, and you'll have stopped making your wallet thinner (wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to focus on keeping everything thinner?).

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