One single action. All it takes is one single action. I wish someone would’ve told me this in my early 20’s. It didn’t happen for me until I was 30.
One of the problems we have as humans is that we are great at turning a blind eye to the things in our lives we don’t want to deal with. Whether we do it consciously or unconsciously, doesn’t really matter. We do it. I do it. You do it. Jessie does it. It’s our nature as humans.
Making ourselves aware of where our money was setting sail for was a moment in this journey that really opened our eyes. I struggled with this for my whole life. Actually, I can’t even say it was a struggle; I was just flat out ignorant as to what was taking money out of our pockets. Truthfully, we paid bills and spent pretty much everything else. SUCCESS! Fiscal responsibility! LOL. Dang, I was soooo dumb sometimes. You don’t believe me? Wanna hear the story about me using my student loan money to take a vacation? Hahahaha. That really happened, but in due time my friends. In due time.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about this awareness piece because it hands down had the largest impact to getting a more clear financial snapshot. When we started this debt journey, we read that tracking what you spend can really give you good idea on what areas of your life you’re overspending. I didn’t think this would work for us truthfully. I don’t stick with anything long term. I can’t make it through one full song in the car before I’m switching to the next. 10 minute drive? I can easily get 10 songs in….Jessie sure loves when I do that.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but tracking expenses doesn’t have to be “long term.” I really thought it needed to be an ongoing, long-term endeavor. To my surprise, it only took roughly 3 months of tracking and we had a handle on where our areas of improvements were. Once we saw it, we couldn’t unsee it, and that was the key! It’s the moment when we realized we had just moved from ignorance to awareness. Something we can never unsee. We will always take notice of it moving forward, whether we want to or not.
It’s similar to this AWARENESS test. <——Pretty awesome video, right? I’ll admit it shamelessly, it totally got me!! BLEW. MY. MIND. Hahahaha
Now that we are conscious of it, we can begin to optimize our spending in these areas to free up cash for debt pay-down. There are plenty of ways to track expenses that aren’t complicated. My top 2 are….
- Write down everything you spend in a pocket-sized notebook. Primitive, but effective.
- Use a digital service like Mint or, my favorite, Personal Capital. Link up your accounts with these services and it will show everything you spend while categorizing it for you. It produces well laid out graphs and charts that I really enjoy using to analyze our financial situation all in one location. It’ll take about an hour for you to set this up properly. I’ll do a post on Personal Capital in the future.
It doesn’t matter how you track expenses. Remember, the main goal here is to gain an awareness of where your money goes. What works for you might not work for me or the next guy. Find something that works for you and stick with it until you get a good idea of what you’re spending over a given month. That might take 2 weeks or 3 months. Just gain awareness!! It’s much easier to remedy a problem once you are aware of it’s presence.