In many ways, budgeting and losing weight are similar. You can only really manage what you monitor. So in order to manage your budget effectively and achieve you goals you need to track your spending. Otherwise how can you know where your money is going or where you are over-spending or making mistakes. It also helps you to optimise and refine your budget.
Similarly when you want to go on a diet to lose weight, a lot of weight loss plans will ask you to track what you are eating. By logging all your meals and snacks you become more accountable. There is no hiding from what’s in front of you in black and white.
I mentioned in a previous post that one of the easiest ways to get started with budgeting and saving money is to get real about your current situation. A great way to really understand your finances is to start tracking all of your spending. Track every last cent, regardless of whether you are paying by cash or card. You can do it on a piece of paper or on your phone or laptop. If you have never done an exercise like this before it will be eye opening. Just like tracking your food intake. Self-awareness is essential.
Next, just like with a diet, you need to see where you can make cut backs. Where are you over-spending (or over-eating)? And make adjustments accordingly. All of your spending cuts should either go directly into savings or to pay off debt (just like diet improvements will lead to weight loss). Slowly but surely, euro by euro (inch by inch) you will start to see big improvements.
In the same vain, when you over-eat on your healthy eating plan or you over-spend on your spending plan, all is not lost. Examine what happened that led to the slip up and implement safe guards to prevent it from happening again next time. Don’t despair or dwell on it too long, just learn from it and move on. Read all about safe guards from the expert herself (Gretchen Rubin) here.
Over time, as you become comfortable with your spending habits and have maximised your budget, you might not feel the need to track every transaction. But until then, just like getting in shape, monitoring and accountability are key! Have you tried this? Let me know how it worked out for you.