I don’t do well with New Year’s resolutions. I mean I think it is a good thing to do but I just haven’t had a lot of luck with doing it… Except in one case: using a journal.
I failed at my resolutions to lose weight, call my mom more often and wake up earlier every morning. The one resolution that I will ever be happy that I made, was to log my spending. Since I’ve started, I’ve never looked back.
My first hand experience of seeing this in practice was when I visited my friend in Holland. I saw in her small office a pile of receipts, some of which were beginning to turn yellow! I thought her husband was really not treating her well at all. Not only was he not treating her well, he was wanting to see proof of how she was seeing his money! I honestly thought he was wicked.
I couldn’t help but tell her what I thought. And she didn’t hesitate to put my fears to rest and explain the whole thing to me. You see, taking are of your finances in this way is similar to going on one of these diets where you have to write everything down that you eat. Writing everything down causes you to think, doesn’t it?
And seeing all the ways you have wasted money creates a sort of embarrassment, doesn’t it? Well that is exactly what it does to me. In fact I think that if I had been doing this for a longer period of time, I would have acquired another house by now. Honestly, I get the chills when I think about silly ways I have given away or wasted money!
So here is what I have resorted to doing to keep my personal finances in check:
Keep all receipts (no matter how small the amount)
Get a book/diary and keep a list of all the money you spend every day
If you are not convinced, just try it for a month and see. In fact, if you start the month with a set amount of disposable income, you will find that you are able to account for all of it. Not only will you be able to account for it all, but you will see all your silly and downright wasteful ways.
When I did this myself I found things I didn’t like. I am too embarrassed to put the list here but I am sure you can imagine, can’t you.
So as it relates to Resolutions for the New Year, I will stick to the one thing that I know work for me. I would definitely suggest that you do that too. Let me know if this is something you have found useful or if this is something you would consider doing.
If you want to raise children with sound financial backgrounds, get them to do this journal too.
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