The Importance Of Tracking Your Spending

Hey everyone, Josh here, and thanks for joining me for this week’s Monday Money! Today, I’m going to bring you in on some of my personal financial woes. So, let’s start with a question…

Do you like digging through your checking account statements every month?

If your answer is yes, either you’re a numbers freak, or you’re just plain crazy! Let’s face it, no one, myself included, in their right mind likes digging through checking account statements every month. Aside from the fact that it is just blatantly and utterly boring, looking at those small lines of text and numbers can give you a headache. It takes forever. Ohh, and did I mention, IT’S BORING?

OK, so by now, you’ve got a good idea of how much I enjoy going through my bank statements. Just in case you didn’t catch it…I hate it! Unfortunately, like most people, if I absolutely hate doing something that I know should be done, I generally forget about it. Well, at least until I have no choice but to deal with it.

Well, I’ve finally come to the point where I have absolutely no choice. The other day, I logged into my online banking and got one of those “WHAT, WHAT, WHAT” moments. Before logging in, like most people, I had a good idea of how much money I had sitting there. I knew how much money I brought in, how much was already there, and I had what I thought to be a good idea of how much money I spent since the last time I checked.

Here’s the kicker. When it comes to the “good idea of how much money I spent since the last time I checked”, I wasn’t just off, I was way off! I’m talking over $300 off, which is where the “WHAT, WHAT, WHAT” moment came into play. When I logged into my account, I realized that I had $300 less than I had originally thought. What a kick to the groin!

That 300 Bucks Was Important To Me

I like to think I’m pretty good about allocating money to bills, savings, spending, etc… This time of the year is a pretty big one for spending. Although I’m not going to get into what holiday I celebrate, I can say that I do celebrate one of them and it involves giving gifts to family and friends. Well, my gift giving budget for friends is around $250, for family it’s around $1,000 and for my fiance, it’s around $300. The only problem is, because of this mishap, the only way I’m coming up with the total of $1,550 for gift buying in time is to dip into my retirement account. That’s money that really shouldn’t be touched!

A Silver Lining On An Otherwise Dark Cloud

In one of my reviews here, I went over Mint. When I did that, I should have signed up. If I had, chances are, this problem wouldn’t have come to fruition. However, I had completely forgotten about Mint. As a matter of fact, after this mishap, I was planning on sitting down with my statement in hand and a spreadsheet on my computer to get a good idea of where my money was going each month.

Then, out of the blue, Jeremy sent me an email. In his email, he asked me about Mint and if I had signed up. Of course, I told him I hadn’t and answered what questions he had. Later in the conversation, he asked me to sign up and test it out. After doing so, I was to write a report that would be used in a collaboration post….shhhhhh it’s a secret!

Anyway, once I signed up, one of the first things I noticed is that all I needed to do was attach my spending accounts and Mint would track my spending for me. SCORE! Now I don’t have to worry about that boring end of the month task of digging through my statement to find spending trends, and finally figure out where I was overspending. Mint does that for me!

Now We Get To The Moral Of The Story

The entire point of me sharing all of this with you is so that you don’t have to experience the same thing I did. That being said, you’ve got a couple of options here. Either sit with a statement and a spreadsheet and track all of your spending. Or, do what I did. Sign up for Mint and let them do it for you!

Reader Question

Do you track your monthly spending trends? If so, how do you do it? Are you using a program like Mint or going old school pen and pad for tracking your spending?

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