I've been very bad when it comes to tracking expenses this past year or so. In theory, I have Quicken, and I use it. The reality is not quite so absolute. I've taken large ATM deposits and spent them without keeping specific track of where they went. I've had cash payments for quilting work done, as well as personal checks that i simply cashed and spent. There was a period of time that Quicken seemingly lost after my upgrade from Quicken 2007 to Quicken 2010 (If you haven't upgraded-don't!). All in all, my spending records for the past year or so do not tell the whole story. Time to turn over a new leaf.
There are some good reasons for me to do some expense tracking:
- In the past I've seriously mis-estimated the amounts that I spent in the past in certain categories (especially transportation). While I can make a goal of spending less than in the past, I need to be realistic about what expenses will be
- I can see if I am "spending on what I do" rather than on what I think I may or should do. Last year I spent quite a bit of money on gardening supplies, but did little to no gardening. That's a wake up call to me that I need to start gardening, stop shopping, or in this case, do both. This is just one example.
- I can see if I revert to emotional spending habits, and I can make sure that my spending is in agreement with my values.
- Because I will download the results quite often, as well as printing out written reports, I'll have an immediate reminder of my spending. That may or may not have a direct result on my spending, who knows.
- Finally, it will, hopefully, move me to keep track of any and all income. Because I have a variety of small income streams, in the past I have not always documented these amounts. Money from small craft fairs, rebates, income from online selling-these were never logged in as income. As a result not only do I know my true past expenses, I am unsure of my true past income.
Coming next-working on those so called "fixed expenses".