This is a bit long, so grab your coffee. If it is too much right now, come back to it later.
If you are always wondering where your money goes, let’s find out. Even if you think, every penny is accounted for, try it. The only people who don’t find extra money, don’t need this blog. They have already figured out all the tricks.
Whether you make $12k or $120k, repeat the following, until you squeeze every disemployed nickel from your budget. We’ll save that for something else.
The first time you try this exercise you will probably want to smack yourself around. Don’t. Most people are shocked and rather ashamed of at least one thing they discover. No tears. Dry it up. We’ll figure it out.
1. Start a new change jar.
2. Keep track of every penny you spend.
This includes your morning coffee, treats from the vending machine, parking meters, bills, video rentals, hookers, whatever. Everything. Jot down the receiptless items, kids’ allowances, tolls, automat sandwiches on a single piece of paper that you carry around with you. Stuff all the receipts
3. Do it for a week.
One month is a better view into your spending, but if that is too overwhelming…a week is a good baby step.
4. Pick a time to sit down.
Relax, grab a cup of joe. Take a deep breath and dive in. Yes, for many, this part can be defeatingly arduous. Hang in there. Little changes, made over time, can actualize a more lush bottom line. Baby steps.
5. Go over every single purchase.
Highlight, use, a letter code, or whatever to break purchases into categories. Coffee, parking, sewage, electricity, lunch, clothes, entertainment, mortgage, rent, donations. I repeat every blessed thing you spent during that time.
6. Total each category.
7. Brainstorm realistic budget cuts.
For example, instead of buying your morning coffee, learn to make your own.
If this is a totally new process for you, don’t be discouraged. They taught this in school about 50 years ago. Now, we are on our own. You can do it. You can find more money hiding in your spending.
If you failed miserably, try again and again, until you can indeed track a whole month. Don’t give up. It’s worth it.
Over the next few weeks, after you have torn your hair out, we will examine some possible changes that many people overlook.
Keep your chin up and remember this is a process and it, too, shall pass.
Trimming the Fat: part 2 — Sifting Through the Spending
Trimming the Fat: part 3 — Sorting It All Out