I think I've told you all about how I've been tracking my daily expenses in a notebook, right? If I didn't, the concept is pretty simple: buy a small notebook, carry it everywhere, & write down everything you spend money on. Last week, I filled my first notebook. It lasted from just after Labor Day (September 4) to the end of November.
The problem I ran into was categorizing what I wrote down. It would've been pretty difficult to go through by hand and see where I spent the most money. I was unsure of how to create my own Excel tracking sheet, but I found online (of course I can't find the link to now), which was easy to use & I could customize my own categories as well as my method of purchase (auto-debit, credit card, check, etc).
I spent most of the day Friday organizing my notes into the Spreadsheet. By lunchtime, I was thoroughly depressed by how much money I was spending needlessly. Even though I was writing it down, I guess I had become desensitized to the process - just writing my spending didn't mean anything anymore. But seeing my monthly shortfall in big red numbers sure did.
That process spurred this month's challenge: No Wawa for one month. It is downright embarrassing how much I was spending on food at Wawa on a monthly basis. $22 in September, $31 in October, and $59 in November! More than $100 in three months. It was probably just because I didn't feel like eating whatever lunch I brought that day, or we hadn't gone food shopping so I needed breakfast. This was in addition to the other money I spent on food/eating out (but not groceries). Ridiculousness.
We're only five days into the month, but I'm doing good so far. I did buy an orange juice there on Saturday morning before we went to my in-laws (& I bought The Hubs a breakfast sandwich, but he's not included in the challenge), but I drank half & saved the other for another morning. The Hubs was kind enough to go grocery shopping on Monday afternoon so now we have food to eat at dinner (and consequently, leftovers for lunch the next day).
An informal and totally non-scientific poll of my co-workers found that most don't track their spending on a daily basis, but log in weekly/monthly to make sure everything is hunky-dory. Even though PNC's Virtual Wallet can do the tracking for me, I've realized I'm the type of person who needs to do everything manually, otherwise my brain just doesn't register that money is flying out the window.
What about you?