My shopping ban officially wraps up next month, but I wanted to reflect on it now and share my new tracking strategy for this year.
While my shopping ban did not mean “zero purchasing,” its intention was to eliminate (or reduce) impulsive purchases.
I wanted to finish 2019 and feel good about the way we spent our money.
I can look back on the year and my posts about the shopping ban and know where most of our discretionary money went.
I am glad I did it and I learned a lot about my spending habits.
That being said, I have room to improve.
That is why 2020, for me, is the year of the daily tracking.
Kevin and I first tried daily tracking in 2011. We had bought our first house and were trying to be responsible with our money.
It seemed like real grownups were supposed to know where all their money went each month.
Since we couldn’t quite account for all our money, daily tracking seemed like a wise first step.
So each day we would write our individual expenditures on a white board. At night we would glance at it together and then erase it for the next day.
I remember it so vividly because the accountability it gave me changed my behaviors. But like many things in life, we let it fizzle out and stopped.
Fast forward to today.
The shopping ban reminded me how much I love tracking. It taught me I enjoyed saving receipts and reviewing purchases.
The problem is, receipts create clutter and a sense of chaos. Also, just saving the receipts did not allow me to see spending patterns or total weekly spending.
So I created a blank calendar for each month. Each day I write all my purchases on the date then throw away the receipts.
I have already felt a huge change in this first month of tracking.
Putting pen to paper to list all my purchases makes me feel the purchases and question them appropriately.
The calendar has also created more financial transparency for our marriage.
We can easily discuss spending without confrontation because we have an “open book” strategy. We can each reference the sheet whenever we want.
I am confident this strategy will take our finances to an even better spot than the shopping ban.
You know that saying, “There is nothing new under the sun?” I realized this as I was celebrating my “original idea” for the tracking calendar.
I received my weekly email from Becoming Minimalist, and one of the articles caught my eye.
The article (here) discusses the Japanese budgeting method of Kakeibo. It is essentially a financial ledger, and the practice has existed for over one hundred years.
As I read the article, I smiled.
I was inspired to think people have been diligently tracking their finances for hundreds of years, and now I too would join them.
I look forward to this new journey.
I am taking all my lessons from the shopping ban to heart and diving into the daily tracking with great optimism.