Photo By: Brianware3000

On this journey to financial freedom, I am not starting with a budget. I’ve done that already. My budget plans have lived on scraps of paper, Word documents, e-mails addressed to myself and little books I designated as my books of money. They have never lasted more than two weeks.

The problem was not that I couldn’t stick to a budget. The problem was that I drafted them blindly. I never tracked my spending so I could not accurately gauge how much I would need to spend on food, transportation or entertainment. Instead, I guesstimated how much I would spend on each category and I was usually wrong. It was like signing up for a marathon before I knew how long I could run.

It turned out I couldn’t make it around the block. I would often spend over what my budget allowed. Instead of being realistic, I wrote optimistic budgets that failed to account for birthday gifts, spur-of-the-moment concert tickets or dry cleaning. When I consistently overspent, I was discouraged and quickly abandoned the budget.

This has gone on for years. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s only now that I’ve begun to track my money. To some, it seems simple enough. To others, it may be a dreadful chore. But when it comes down to it, how can you save money if you don’t know where it goes?

I now keep my track of all my spending. From the $60 bar tab to the to $1.50 coffee, I’ve recorded all transactions from the past week. So far, I’ve found it to not only be a great way to see where my money is going, but to reign in spending. I’ve only been doing it for a week and a half, but I’ve already determined that I’ve spent too much money parking and entertainment. Perhaps it’s a little obsessive of me, but I have to admit, knowing where I’ve spent each penny is empowering. Dare I say, it’s even a little fun..