Tis the season to be spending. But splurging on presents is like binging at the buffet. Fun at first, but afterwards, you feel awful!
Let me suggest a simple tip to control your spending, without turning into a tightwad: Track your expenses.
Every time you buy anything—a gift, a latte or a mani/pedi—jot down the item and the amount…at the time of purchase. Otherwise, receipts pile up and it feels overwhelming.
Believe me, tracking is not just for those with limited means. Tracking is a powerful consciousness raising, potentially life changing tool. It reveals a lot more than where you can shave and save.
For one thing, the numbers tell a story about your life. For example, when you look at where you aren’t spending—say doctor visits or new underwear—do you see where you may be depriving yourself?
When you look at where you are spending, do your purchases reflect your values, what’s really important to you? Or, are you trying to fill a hole in your soul that no amount of ‘stuff’ will ever fill.
Furthermore, tracking has a ripple effect. There was a fascinating Australian study where participants wrote down every purchase, with surprising results.
Not only did their financial lives improve, but they also smoked and drank less, ate less junk food and even found they were more productive.
“As people strengthened their willpower muscles in one part of their lives — in the gym, or a money management program — that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked,” the study discovered. “Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.”
Tracking your spending, it turns out, is a great gift to give yourself this holiday season.
I’d love to hear about your experience with tracking your spending. Share in the comments below.