Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Slacking on tracking April 5, 2009

Filed under: Fitness,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 6:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

One of the best ways to get a real idea of where your money is going is to track every expense.  Most financial gurus (and personal finance bloggers) will tell you that.  And that’s what I’ve been doing since August of 2007.  Or at least, I’ve been trying to track everything since then.  I’ve mentioned before that I have quite a few ways I keep track of my money.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been slacking off when it comes to keeping track of the things that I usually track.  With walletproof, I’ve only been actively adding my dining out expenses (including my lunch spending in the cafeteria).  There are repeated expenses and income that I’ve allowed to continue on the site, but I haven’t readjusted them to coincide with the correct days.  And I mentioned before that I started using a program called NutriSum, where you track your weight, eating habits, and exercise.  At the beginning, I was logging my progress every day.  Now I log the information when I remember to, and sometimes go back days to fill in the missing numbers.

So what does this mean?  I think for me, tracking everything gave me a sense of control; I knew where everything went, and I could watch as I reached my budgeted limit for the different spending categories.  But now that I have an idea of where things are going (especially with the help of my other tracking websites like Mint), and can set my limits there.  I think I have only been tracking dining expenses because I use credit cards or online bill pay for most purchases, which makes everything easy to track online.  The only thing I spend cash on (usually) is food at the cafeteria.  Going to those websites every once in a while to confirm that I am staying within my limits (and as a bonus, I can monitor any suspicious activity with any of my accounts) seems to get the job done.

I never have been a big spender.  I do occasionally have a spendy month when I buy something that’s long-term (updated wardrobe, new glasses, computer, car) or for birthdays and Christmas (I like buying things for my family).  But those occasional purchases are budgeted in, and wont happen too often.

As for the health tracking, I think that it got me started on healthier habits, and made me aware of what I should be doing.  I’ve now started eating breakfast every day (mmmm oatmeal!), been drinking more water, and avoiding snacks after dinner.  I’m not as good with the whole grains and fruits/veggies goal, but I do remain aware of what I’m putting on my plate, both as I go through the grocery store, and when I pick my meals at the cafeteria.  And I’ve been trying to stick to my exercise regimen (2-3 times per week to start), though I sometimes do 2 instead of 3 days.  But I know what I need to do, and can remind myself that I am working towards a healthier life.

Do you track every penny?  Should I be?

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7 Responses to “Slacking on tracking”

  1. I don’t have a need to track anything any more. I am very good with my money now, without having the need to measure it up against a budget (hell, I went to NYC, shopping capital and spend less than $200 on purchases!)

    However, I do like seeing where my money goes. I like tracking every penny, seeing the categories, and then having quarterly reports about what I’ve spent so far, and then yearly ones.

    I also just have a slush fun fund (which I do and is not even recorded on my budget, and are just a couple of $20 – $50 bills), but even when I spend from that, I still track it all.

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.

  2. SP Says:

    Like FB, I don’t feel the “need” to track everything, but I’m sort of a data nerd and I love looking at the numbers. I don’t spaz out if I get close to my budget limits.

    I do round to the nearest dollar, not penny. 🙂

  3. savings Says:

    I don’t track every penny, especially when I pay with cash. Some people track everything and could tell you to the dollar how much they spent at Subway last year. Not me. I just keep an up to date checkbook register and organize my budget on mint.

  4. oh boy. I don’t even keep my receipts and balancing a checkbook? I don’t even have a check book! … but I do try to keep track of how much I spend … sort of inversely. I give myself a certain amount to spend during the month and move the rest over to savings. Sometimes I need a little more, and if there’s any left over at the end of the month, I pull it out and stick it in savings.

    I think I will try this, though. It will be interesting to see exactly how much I spend on what. I know I eat out *a lot*, but I do that because I have 2 jobs … or is it that I have 2 jobs because I eat out a lot? haha. we will see.

  5. eemusings Says:

    I’m not a micromanager, I don’t track but I do know roughly how much I spend and on what! Basically I allocate a certain amount to each category every week, and try to stay within that. When I first decided to start budgeting, I went over a few months worth of bank statements and was STUNNED to see how much we spent on eating out. I think that was a real wakeup for me.

  6. Money Maus Says:

    I track (almost) every penny via my own spreadsheets (like SP, I love numbers and data!) as well as using Mint.

    I am also a bit of a hoarder – I keep all my receipts, but get rid of them once a month, except for all “major” purchases.

    🙂

  7. Manifest Says:

    nice share dude


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