The first step to success for No-Spend November is learning how to track your spending. Believe it or not, saving money is much easier once you know what you’re actually spending! (and yes, we actually do have a line item for “coffee”…haven’t you met my husband?)
I have to admit, even as someone that is known as the “Savings Expert”, we have slacked off in the last month in terms of tracking our spending. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our budget, but having a budget alone simply isn’t enough. Sure it’s important to make sure you know where your money is going, but if you don’t take the time to stop and track where you’re actually spending your money by logging all your receipts, then you’re only halfway there.
Think about it: I could set up the perfect budget each month, but if I don’t execute it, then it’s worthless to me.
Likewise, if I wait until the end of the month to log all my receipts and evaluate where I’m spending, it gives me no room to readjust in the current month.
So your first step for No-Spend November is to set up a system where you can track your spending.
For some of you, that may be an online app on your smartphone. I like programs such as Manila and Mint that can be used both on your phone, but also synced with your computer. You can check out this post on my top five money management websites for even more information.
Personally, even though I love my iPhone, I’m more of a pen and paper kind of girl. So I print out a tracker from Crown.org that I keep on me in my purse notebook. I also know Dave Ramsey has free tools as well. But remember, we’re not talking about budget right now, we are talking about simply tracking where your money is going.
But before any of that, I started out with and continue to use a Google Spreadsheet. I’ve never been able to find a receipt tracker that has all the line items we needed, so I just created my own (see above). It’s not pretty, but it works!
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: there is no way you can make a successful budget if you don’t first know where your money is being spent each month. So find something that works for you, at least for now, and get tracking!
What have you found that works for helping you track your spending?