“This post was enough to get me to sit down and track my expenses for the last year. I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t want to see the results. They’re definitely cringe worthy… It’s time to get this financial house in order.”
Sound familiar? Do you remember when you first sat down to REALLY track things? (I do – it was in late 2007 when I realized I needed to figure out what the hell owning a house was going to do to me! How backwards is that?)
If not – Start now! If you don’t know what you’re working with, how are you supposed to know if you’re doing better or worse, or even close to being on track? I swore off budgeting and tracking this stuff for 27 years until it finally hit me. If you’ve never sat down and literally written out exactly what you have, and where, it’s time to own up! Grab a paper, an excel budget, whatev – just DO it.
If you remember – How did it make you feel? Were you expecting much better results? Worse results? Personally, I was kinda surprised in a few areas. #1, I learned that I was spending WAY more than my mentally budgeted $500 “life” fund. It was more like $800 every month!! I was also getting creamed with random spending – something I never added up in any given month, but was totaling about $150 every month.
The one GOOD thing that I realized though, was that I was actually building up my 401(k) a bit! All those $50 deposits every paycheck were starting to accumulate (this was before the 100% matching deal) so the news wasn’t totally bad. I also wasn’t in *as much* credit card debt as I had originally thought, although I was certainly in some which wasn’t making any sense.
The point is, without understanding fully what your finances look like you can’t pinpoint future successes or failures. You need that snapshot to really understand the overall financial picture. You start that now, and every month going forward will bring you closer and closer to financial freedom – even if it takes you a while. As G.I. Joe likes to say, knowing is half the battle.
PS: Some of my favorite tools:
|Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review|
|Digit (FREE) -- A super easy (and automated) way to save. Every day Digit analyzes your income and expenses and will push money aside for you any time it sees extra sitting there. I've saved over $4,000 myself using them so far! // Full review|
|Acorns -- Having trouble finding money to invest? Check out Acorns – they round up all your transactions to the nearest $1.00 and drops the difference into an investment portfolio for you. Easy way to start investing! // Full review|