Three days into my first resolution and I’m already starting to get a picture of the challenges ahead. It’s not the actual keeping track of my spending that’s the issue. My only purchases so far have been food, rent, and my driver’s license renewal, so gathering receipts has been pretty simple. It’s the pre-emptive planning that’s tripping me up. Already I’m judging my purchases on whether or not I really need them. This is the whole point of the resolution, but not this early!
Generally speaking, I’m already pretty good about controlling my spending on material goods. I just don’t own a lot of things. A lot of my discretionary spending goes towards entertainment and food (not stuff), which is a direct result of a probably-more-critical-than-absolutely-necessary questioning of “do I really need this?” When I first decided to tackle tracking my spending, I figured some time would pass before I’d start analyzing my spending.
Clearly the entirety of my consciousness wasn’t involved with this decision.
So I’m already trying to figure out if I should really shell out for that side of guacamole at Chipotle, or if just the queso would be enough. Again, this is before I even know if saving the extra buck or so would do me any good. If I were in a position where every dollar counted, this would be a no-brainer. Why the hell would I be eating out in the first place? Though, eating out is one of the things I’m aiming to reduce through this plan. I do tend to eat out… a lot… and I’m just going to have to learn to turn off my brain for a week or two until I can see the effect this has on my wallet.
While I’m gathering all my spending data, the next step is to choose how to track it. I’ve been doing a fair share of searching online for different “spending” or “budget” trackers, and ho boy are there a lot of them! I’ve downloaded six different Excel sheets and PDFs, and I’m checking out a few free software solutions. More than likely I won’t use software for this because there’s just too much going on with those most of the time. As I alluded to in the previous post, my experiences with Quicken turned me off to this sort of thing.
I’m still torn between creating my own tracker and using a template; most likely I’ll modify a free template for my needs. As a nice plus to these searches, I’ve found websites with all sorts of different free Excel templates, like Spreadsheet123 and Vertex42 (apparently all the cool websites have numbers in the address, just like 12stepnewyear ;)). Admittedly, I’m probably not going to find much use for the Instant Qualifier for Hard Money Mortgage Spreadsheet Template, but it’s nice to know it’s there. Oh, and what’s this? A New Year’s Resolution Calendar? It’s like they knew I was coming.
In short, I haven’t really gotten into the nitty gritty, figuring-out-where-my-money’s-going action yet. However I’m pleased that I’ve been able to at least gather receipts as I get them instead of tossing them as soon as I pass a trash can. That should be enough to tell you from where I’m starting from on this. Next resolution update I’ll let you know which tracker I settle on and the success (or utter defeat) I’m experiencing with it.