I love reading. I read a lot of everything, except maybe sci-fi. As I’ve been on this journey of becoming more financially secure and working towards a better future, it is natural that I would continue to read from as many sources as I find in regards to what other people suggest. I’m far from an expert, but rather a supporter. I see myself as a cheerleader from the sidelines, supporting everyone in their journey. Part of my cheerleader role means looking for opportunities that might work for you. I recently read a blog post from 2004 (see reference at the end of this blog post) about getting ahead without a budget, the writer simply started writing things down. In doing this, you realize what you are actually spending, not what you think you are spending. It sounded vaguely familiar, remember when you got your first checking account and received a register where you were supposed to write everything down? If you are more “mature” like me, there wasn’t access to online banking, so you had to know where your money went. Checks did not equal money. (A hard lesson for many!)
I’m crazy about checking my accounts every day – all of my open checking and investment accounts, along with my credit cards. I want to know where every dime is going and how much interest I’m gaining, but I started asking myself if I could be doing better… So, the past couple of weeks I’ve tried the experiment of writing down each time I spend money. From groceries, to gas, to giving my son’s daycare $3 so they can go to DQ on a sunny day… WOW. I can say that for as much as I feel that I have a handle on spending, it is eye opening. There is something about the process of writing something down that causes you to processes your spends differently. I’m not terribly crazy when it comes to spending, but I manage a budget where I see little amounts being spent nearly daily that happen with little to no thought. The stop at the convenience store for this, overspending by making impulse purchases while grocery shopping, and a run through the drive thru for lunch, it all starts adding up. Over a week it might be an extra $100 in spending, but over a year that means $1200, imagine over 20 years. In 20 years, that mindless spending would be $96,100, with interest (assuming an average of 7%) that becomes $210,100. So imagine doubling the money that is being mindlessly spent and putting in a place where it grows for your future. That drive-thru lunch that wasn’t all that great and I didn’t care about immediately after eating, suddenly becomes something I do care about!
Using easy math. Assume you spend 20 years in retirement… That small investment, using money you don’t even realize you are spending, would mean an extra $875/month in spending money. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have more freedom tomorrow, than spend money on stuff I have no record of.
And through all of this, I found a neat app for recording the expenses. It is called “Daily Budget.” It can be found in the Apple and Android App Stores. There is a free version that can do most of what you need the app to do, but you can also connect to family members and set a daily budget. Every expense that is recorded lowers the available daily budget, anything that is not spent rolls forward to the next day. I’m challenged to keep that number growing, so at the end of the month it gets moved to savings.
I think as I work through this journey the biggest thing I’ve realized about money is that it is so rooted in psychology, and we are all effected differently by how we earn and spend money. The trick is figuring out something that resonates with you and that will help you build the future you want for you, for your family, and perhaps your legacy. <3 Bobbi